My View From the Window Chapter 1
By Prism Angel
The burning wouldnt stop, no matter how much I writhed. The feeling coursed excruciatingly through my veins, biting my skin, scalding my body. I couldnt see--my eyes were squeezed shut and refused to open, and even though I wanted to scream my paralyzed throat prohibited the escaping of any noise. I felt my long, waterlogged hair streaming through the liquid around me, and I clutched my arms against me in a futile effort to stifle my harrowing anguish. I could feel the mechanical oxygen mask over my nose and mouth and could even hear the hum of the tubes attached to the equipment outside my cage, but my brain seemed to refuse to accepted this and I felt the sensation that I was suffocating anyway. I threw myself against the glass in a desperate effort to escape, but this accomplished nothing, since I was horribly exhausted, and I pitifully slid my hand down it, silently begging for mercy.
None came, and I slowly fainted away into darkness.
I emitted a terrified gasp and sat straight upwards, flinging the torn blankets from atop me. I sat for several seconds in absolute silence, with the exception of my heaving breaths, and slowly cast my gaze in a gradual circle around me. After of several seconds of absorption I recognized the familiar scenery of the alleyway around me, and the reassuring sounds of barking stray dogs and scurrying mice. I exhaled a long, weary breath and collapsed backwards, running a hand through my long, tangled blond hair which had grown noticeably damp with frightened sweat. "........A dream...." I murmured breathlessly, gazing up towards the sunless heavens above me. "...Thats all it was.....Some nightmare.....That same one Ive had for the past week and a half..." I exhaled a short, breathless sigh, and after a pause I suddenly leapt to my feet with a jolt. "....Aah!! Theres no time for me to be daydreaming!! I gotta get going!!"
I turned and crouched again, folding up the wrinkled sheets I had been sleeping beneath, then placed them neatly near the large silver garbage can situated in the corner. I let out an amused giggle and swept my hand over the back of the snoozing black and white stray cat enveloped in the shadows. "Aww, you came to protect me, Lucky?" I chuckled happily, watching the small kitten glance up at me through one blurry amber eye. The other one, disgustingly raked with large scar, remained closed. She let out a quiet chirp and curled back up into a ball.
Humming softly, I trudged over to a pipeline positioned towards the front of the alleyway and kneeled down by the faucet, which was dripping steadily from the lack of use. I forced the rusted knob to turn, then emitted a squeal of disgust and stumbled backwards. "Damn thats cold!! And I thought the mornings were freezing..."
After forcing myself to wash in the frigid water that flowed from the conduit, I yanked a dirty, faded dress over my head and straightened the black fabric belt about my waist, then wrapped a torn shawl around my shoulders. I combed my fingers through my knotted blond hair, then lifted a wide straw basket up onto my arm. With strain, I managed to push open the top of the abandoned dumpster and reach inside, pulling out several large bouquets of flourishing flowers (somehow the climate within the refuse heap was warmer than the one of the outdoors and they were able to blossom rather successfully). I slid several bunches beneath my arm into the basket, then released another weary sigh and headed towards the entrance into the alleyway, out towards the street.
"Help a girl in need, sir?" I asked innocently, strutting up to a passerby and holding up a flowering tulip. "Best price you can get anywhere, 3 gil a flower, 40 for a bouquet!"
The man gazed cautiously down at the bud I held in my fingers, then pulled his hat further down over his face and continued onward. "No thanks, miss."
"Oh, please, sir, dont turn your back on a starving child!!" I begged piteously, chasing after him with sorrowful eyes. "....I...I havent eaten in days, and I need a new shawl......It is so very cold today, please have a heart!! Its like purchasing karma!!
"I said no thank you, miss," he repeated, turning away and transversing a street at a crosswalk.
I stared after him for several seconds, my breaths misting in the cold air, then clenched my fists and narrowing my eyes in rage. "Selfish bastard!!" I shouted angrily, even though I knew he was well out of earshot. "You come back and say that to my face! Youre gonna get one helluva scalding when the devil comes for your ass, mister!!"
I exhaled an aggravated breath, then whirled about and stomped back towards where I had been standing before. "....Jesus, are the people in these slums getting more and more egotistical, or is it just me?" I huffed angrily, fidgeting with the flower bud between my hands. "Usually when I use that story, someone will give me money to eat or something.....Ahh, I dont need him, Ill get my wages some other way."
I surveyed the pedestrians around me, then randomly chose one and ran up to him. It was a young man, probably in his early twenties, accompanied by a girl of about the same age. The man had spiky blond hair and unnaturally deep blue-green eyes, while the girl possessed long auburn hair and hazel eyes. Both glanced over at me when I approached.
"Good morning, sir," I greeted as friendily as I could. "Care for a flower to impress your girlfriend?"
"Huh?" He blinked several times, then glanced down at the girl. "...Well, were kinda in a hurry..."
"Oh, please, it will help a homeless girl!!" I interrupted deplorably, clasping my hands in front of me. "Please....Many people seem to not care about the poor anymore, and Im beginning to lose my one source of salary......Im so hungry.....and so cold..."
"Ummm..." The man gazed uncomfortably at my disheveled face, then back at the woman on his arm.
"Oh, come on, Cloud, dont be such a miser," she scolded. "Get a couple flowers from the poor girl." She grinned. "....Remember, roses are my favorite."
"Ok, ok," Cloud huffed, pulling out several coins. "Here, here. Three roses for Tifa, please."
I smiled, then reached into my basket and pulled out the specified number of blossoms. "Thank you so much," I acknowledged, accepting the money and placing the flowers into the womans, whose name I guess was Tifa, hands. "Such deeds eventually pay off in your favor."
"Not at all!" Tifa exclaimed, totally interrupting what Cloud was about to say. "You just be careful, ok? There are a lot of weird guys out here in the slums, and its no place for a girl like you."
I smiled gratefully. "....Thank you, I will." With that, I turned and headed back in the direction that I came. Tifa and Cloud continued on their way down the street.
"She was very sweet, dont you think?" Tifa asked, bracing herself against a rush of wind that swept furiously through the dry, frosty air. "Its too bad that even pretty young girls like that can still be subjected to poverty and misfortune......These slums are a horrible place to live..."
Cloud exhaled a distant sigh and gazed up towards the sky above him. ".......Yeah.....Yknow, that girl....she kinda reminded me of ....Aeris..."
"...Well, she was a flower girl," Tifa huffed sarcastically, spiteful at the mention of her rivals name. "Besides that...." She suddenly blinked, then whirled mockingly towards him. "....You thought she was hot, didnt you??"
"H...huh??!!" Cloud spun towards her, and his face washed a faint shade of crimson. "I....I did not!!" he protested defensively, turning his head away.
"Heehee.....Cloud, youre bright red!!"
".....Women..." Cloud muttered almost inaudibly, gruffly thrusting his hands into his pockets as Tifa continued to taunt him. Suddenly he blinked, stopped walking, and felt around his pocket. "...Hey--!"
"Hm??" Tifa turned back towards him as he forced his pocket open and gazed disbelievingly inside. "Cloud, whats the matter?"
"That...that little rat!!!" he suddenly shouted furiously, whirling around to glare behind him. "She...she was nothing but a goddam little swindler!!"
"What?? Cloud, what are you talking about??"
"That damn flower girl!!" he huffed tumultuously, clenching his fist. "I...I dont know how she did it, but....somehow, amongst our conversation, she swiped my goddam wallet!!"
"Hahahahaha!!!" I laughed triumphantly, ducking into the safety of a shaded alleyway and leaning back against the wall. "This is perfect!! What a pair of suckers!! They took my poor innocent stories hook, line, and sinker!! Hahaha!!" I reached into my pocket and pulled out the leather poach I had swiped from Clouds coat and shook it, listening to the jingle of enclosed money. I hungrily ripped open the sac and spilled the contents into my hand, then let out a cry of disappointment. "What the hell---this guy is more broke than I am!! Theres only....one...two...seven...seventeen!! Seventeen freakin gil!! What a stupid waste of my time..."
I exhaled another annoyed breath, then pocketed the money, straightened the strap of the basket on my arm, and headed back out onto the street. "Oh, well, theres got to be some rich creeps out here..." I examined the people that passed me by, but most didnt cast a second glance in my direction. I even attempted to approach a couple, but they simply refused my by a silent wave of their hands or ignoring me altogether.
"Damn..." I panted in discouragement. "Looks like no one cares at all...."
Famished and weakened by the icy climate, I leaned back against a vast wall lining the sidewalk and rubbed my bare arms, which had turned noticeably paler and numb from the cold (fortunately, my constant exposure to such temperature assuaged my fear of becoming frostbitten), and exhaled a breath. "......Yknow, I really could use some new clothes..." I whispered softly to myself. "Nothing too horribly expensive, but maybe a coat, or at least a sweater..." I immediately snapped myself back into reality and stood up straight. "...What am I talking about!" I exclaimed to no one. "Ive been perfectly fine this whole time!! I dont need anyone, I dont need anything! Im just fine!" I snorted out a matter-of-fact breath and crossed my arms. "....Thats right, Im a loner! A survivor! An...an...outcast...
"Ah, well, whatever," I interrupted myself, sliding my basket off my arm and placing it lightly down onto the pavement. "I need a break..." As I stretched my sore muscles, my gaze gradually drifted to a large pile of random garbage, probably close to ten feet tall, leaning against the wall only a yard or two away. I stared over at it for several seconds in silence. "...Jesus, Allie, have you really sunk this low...?" I asked myself as I approached the heap. "Searching through trash for something to keep warm...? You really are desperate, you stupid bitch..." I exhaled a sigh and lifted myself atop a sturdy box, then began rummaging through the refuse for any type of cloth or source of heat. "....This is disgusting..." I moaned, seizing a bleached quilt but realizing it was stained with patches of dried vomit. "I cant believe Im doing this..." Several seconds of silence passed, with the exception of my hands searching through the waste and the sounds of passersby behind me (I was determined not to turn around and reveal my face to any of them), and I soon found myself humming random tunes that popped into my head. "...All I want is a room somewhere....far away from the cold night air....with one enormous chair, oh wouldnt it be loverly...?" I continued to murmur the lyrics under my breath, then froze as I felt a pair of staring eyes boring into my back.
I didnt move for several seconds, then gradually cast a glance over my shoulder until I completely whirled about to face my spectator. My confused azure eyes eventually met a pair of sharp scarlet ones.
It was a young man, probably in his late twenties or so, with long black hair falling loosely around his shoulders. His skin was unnaturally pale, and he stared blankly at me through his unnatural crimson eyes. Red eyes...? I thought to myself, gaping perplexedly back at the man. I...I dont think Ive ever seen such a color before...
The man did not budge from his spot on the pavement, and I forced myself to stifle a shiver as he continued to gaze straight through me. An icy breeze whipped straight down the sidewalk, fluttering the strangers coat and causing his thick ebony hair to stream. His ashen face soon became revealed to me, and I found him remarkably handsome; however, the dismal air about him sent several tremors cascading down my spine.
My eyes finally fell to my flower basket on the asphalt, and immediately I snapped back into reality. Exhaling a startled, "....Oh...!" I leapt down from my perch atop the box, landed clumsily on my feet, snatched up my bassinet, and raced up to him. "....Care for a flower, sir??"
He blinked several times, appearing to return from some sort of reverie. "....What?"
"A flower," I repeated, lifting a snapdragon from my basket with a smile. "Do you want one? Theyre only 3 gil apiece, and itll help me get some food and clothes. Please?"
".......I......" He gaped incomprehensibly towards me, then exhaled a weary breath and took several steps backwards, straightening the collar of his coat. ".......No thanks. Flowers arent exactly my style."
"Hey, wait!!" I called, running after him as he continued down the sidewalk. I suddenly grabbed hold of his jacket. "How can you do this?? Have you no heart?!"
"..........No." With that, he shook me off and continued walking. "Thank you for clearing that up."
"...Hmph." I turned angrily and walked in the opposite direction. "I should be the one thanking you."
"Eh?" The man spun back around to face me, watching me duck into a sidestreet. "Thank me for what?"
I cast a quick glance over my shoulder to check that he could no longer see me, the emitted a gleeful laugh and pulled out the wallet I had captured from his pocket when I had seized him. "....For more than you know, moron."
I brushed my hair behind my ears, then turned and proceeded down the sidewalk. "Two suckers in one day," I giggled to myself. "This is getting easier as time goes--" I was cut off and a startled cry escaped my throat as I was suddenly knocked off my feet and sent sprawling to my left hip. "Hey--!!" I angrily glared up and spotted a large man, with whom I had directly collided, standing above me, swaying unsteadily as he dazed down at me. "Watch where youre going, idiot!!" I snapped furiously, then emitted a irritated gasp as I spotted several bouquets of various flowers spilled out in the slush lining the street. "You jerk!! You made me drop two days worth the flowers! Two freakin days!! You stupid moron!!"
"...Watch your mouth, chickie!" he bellowed in return, his words slurring clumsily as he pointed down at me. "You aint got no right ta say anythin bout me, understand??"
Hes totally wasted....Gross....! "Oh, yeah?" I huffed angrily, retrieving my fallen blossoms and getting to my feet. "Well, apology accepted, you dolt!!"
"Whatd I just tell yas...?!" he sputtered inebriatedly, seizing my wrist and jerking me back towards him as I attempted to leave.
"...I dont know, I couldnt understand you, you drunken bastard!!" I hissed, yanking on my hand in an endeavor to escape. "Let go of me!"
"Youd betta watch your ass, sweetie..." he hiccuped, tossing my wrist away acrimoniously and pointing a shaking finger at me. "The way yous been actin.....it could get chas hurt....itd be a shame, a pretty lass like you...heheh..."
"Hmph." I straightened the basket on my arm and whipped my head away from him, then turned on my heel and sauntered back the way I had come. "Jerkoff..." I muttered, casting a glance over my shoulder back at him. "Youre in no position to tell me anything until you sober up! What an idiot...!"
Business did not pick up any further for the rest of the day, and I didnt even get a chance to steal any other money pouches besides all those I already had. Dusk was beginning to fall, and the clouded heavens began to release drifting flakes of snow. I had wandered several long, icy blocks away from my residence, so I decided to take a breather in an deserted back alleyway and rest my sore feet.
"Heehee..." I let out a soft, victorious giggle as I pulled out the wallet I had stolen from the second man and began to count its contents. "Holy crap!! Two hundred, two hundred fifty....three hundred seventy-five gil!! Jackpot!! That guy must have just gotten his paycheck or something!! Wheeee!!" I began to search through the rest of the wallet, and my eyes fell to a photo ID of the same dark man I had stolen it from. "........Vincent Valentine...." I read quietly, glancing towards the mans deep ruby eyes. "What a weird guy....What was that feeling that shot through my body as soon as he glanced over at me...?"
"Hey, guys!" someone called from behind me. "Its Eliza!"
"Huh?" I turned as the forms of several dusty adolescent males stepped out from the shadows behind me, and immediately I stuck out my tongue towards them. "...You idiots. What dumpster did you climb out of?"
"The same one you did, dearie," one with ruffled brunette hair, who I knew as Claude, teased me, giving me a light pinch on the shoulder. "Whore you to judge?"
"Ah, a busy day, I see!" another with long black hair in a ponytail, named Will, exclaimed, snatching the wallet from my unexpecting hands. "Why cant you be a good girl and actually sell flowers for once, Eliza?"
"You--!! Give it back!!" I commanded, lunging towards the wallet. However, he simply held me back with his foot and began to thumb through the enclosed money.
"Whoa-ho, this dudes loaded!" he asserted happily, holding up the cash for the rest of his gang to see. "Lil Eliza hit the freakin jackpot!!"
I gave him a punch in the stomach and stole the wallet and money back from his hands and slipped both back into my pocket. ".....Hmph. Maybe if you morons actually went out and got yourselves a job, youd have a similar turnout."
"Since when did pickpocketing classify as an occupation?" a third gangmember with dirty, short red hair named Ryo, questioned sarcastically leaning his chin on the back of his hand. "And whos gonna hire a bunch of homeless bastards like us?"
"I dunno, but you can stop picking on me." I stuck my tongue mockingly out at all of them and smiled. "Just cuz I know you all want me..."
"I dont know about your body, but, damn, I could sure use all that cash you pull in every day," Hiro, a tall teenager with short, pale blond hair, commented dreamily, holding his shaking hands out towards the fire he had started in a garbage can. "You could at least loan us a couple bucks now and then."
"Hey, why dont you guys all become newsies like I suggested you do?" I asked them. "It may not pay the greatest amount, but its a job, and theyll even let you stay indoors--"
I was interrupted as Damien, the final gangmember with long brown hair held back in a braid, let out a cynical laugh from the depths of the alleyway. "Thats a joke," he snorted, glancing over at me from beneath his mahogany bangs. "We aint made to be hangin out with any bunch of freakin strangers. And a newsy is one a the most tedious jobs a guy could have."
"....Well, you dont have to be so unappreciative," I huffed angrily. "I was just trying to help..."
"Lets face it, Eliza, we aint meant to have jobs," Damien interrupted, casting his gaze away from me. "Some of us worthless bastards were born to just sit in the shadows and waste away."
"...Dont talk like that, it wont be this way forever..."
"This is the way its been so far."
"Yo, Eliza, you wanna stay with us tonight?" Hiro suddenly asked in a desperate attempt to change the subject. "Ryo managed to swipe some food from the marketplace."
"No, I think Id better just go home," I replied. "Ive been out walking all day, and I just want to go to sleep. You guys take care, ok? Ill see you tomorrow." They all called a farewell towards me, and then I continued down the street.
I stepped inside another alleyway another block or so down to take refuge from the falling snow, then leaned back against the wall and exhaled a weary breath. "...So tired...and cold...and hungry...I wish that--" I let out a terrified scream as a hand suddenly seized my wrist and whipped me roughly around to face a pair of fiery scarlet eyes. I emitted a gasp as I recognized the form of Vincent Valentine, the main I had robbed, standing in the shadows and exerting a tight grip on my left wrist.
"You little thief!!" he snapped angrily, yanking me towards him. "Give me my money back!! Now!!"
"Let go of me!!" I ordered, then let out another frightened gasp as I noticed his other hand, his left one, was replaced with a golden steel claw, like the metallic arm of a wild animal. "What..what that hell...?!"
"I said give it back to me!!" he hissed, meeting my eyes again. "Ive spent the last hour searching the goddam city for you!"
"...Nnnn..." I gaped at him in unmasked shock, then yanked on my wrist in a pathetically shaken escape endeavor. "I said let go of me!!"
"My money first!" he demanded nastily, extending his frightful metal claw towards me. A timorous squeal escaped my lips, and immediately I reeled backwards and shielded my face with my free hand. I could feel frightened tears welling up in my eyes, and I whipped my head aside in a desperate custodial position.
"Ok, ok!!" I sobbed piteously, digging into the depths of my shawl and holding his stolen wallet out towards him in a quivering hand. "Here, here, just take it!! Im sorry!! Its all there, every single penny! I didnt take any, I swear!! Just please dont hurt me!!"
He stared at me in silence for several seconds, as if he was hardly comprehending what was going on. He blinked several times, drifting back into reality, then slowly removed the wallet from my hand and released his hold on my wrist. I immediately tumbled backwards, landing clumsily on my side on the pavement. "...Ughhhh..." I winced slightly at the throb that shot angrily through my hip, then gradually lifted my gaze up to his face. He opened the wallet and gazed inside, counting the money, then eventually shut it and slipped it into his pocket. He suddenly seemed to realize my existence once again, and as his eyes met mine I felt a frightened jolt snap through my bones. ".....I said I was sorry..." I choked raspily, hiding my face and dragging myself defensively against the brick wall. "Please....I just needed the money....I didnt mean to get you so angry....I was just hungry and cold, thats all..."
"Uh..." Vincent seemed rather uncomfortable with my terrified position at his feet, and after several moments of gazing uneasily down at me he gradually lowered himself to a kneeling position at my side. I immediately let out a sharp gasp and drew my shivering arms in against me, staring at his frightening crimson eyes in exposed terror. I felt two apprehensive trails of tears slide down my cheeks. "....No, dont cry," he suddenly told me softly. "Im sorry, I didnt mean to frighten you. Dont be afraid. I wont hurt you, see? Here, Ill help you."
I forced myself to swallow, then pushed myself to my feet, seized the handle of my basket, and fled down the alleyway. I could feel Vincent watch after me, now on his feet as well, but I could tell he was not going to make any attempt at following me. A long trail of petals fell behind me, landing lightly on the thin coat of snow that now littered the ground.
I had almost reached the end of the alleyway when suddenly a powerful arm shot out from nowhere, roughly seizing my arm and slamming me brutally into the side wall. I instinctively emitted a stunned scream, but it was immediately stifled by a furious hand clamping over my mouth. I was dazed for several seconds, but as my blurred vision slowly climbed I exhaled a muffled cry as I met the eyes of the drunken man I had met earlier.
"Little bitch!!" he snarled angrily, tightening his grip across my lips. "You think you can get away from me?? You made a big mistake, my dear, and I warned you not ta mess wi me!!"
I finally managed to wrench my head away from his suffocating grip, and I instantaneously let out a raspy, "Let go of me!!" and struggled furiously against his grip. "Are...are you freakin out of your mind?! I said let go!!"
"Heheh..." He swayed unsteadily on his feet, but he managed to keep his balance. "Thought you was pretty slick, eh? Thought yous could get away from me, eh...?"
"Let me go, dammit!!" I screamed frantically, jerking violently backwards but unable to dislodge my hands from his grip. "Are you crazy...?!!"
"Little bitch..." he muttered again, and I could smell the intense stench of alcohol lingering in his breath. "You think you was pretty smart, tricking me so easily....Lets see who gets the last laugh..."
"What are--!" I was stopped abruptly by a startled gasp as he reached into his pocket with his free hand and removed a large butterfly knife, which he immediately held only inches from my face in his quivering grip. "....Oh...oh my God..."
"Ive won, you little harlot..." he growled under his breath. "Now give it back to me, before I--"
He was bluntly silenced by a loud clicking noise behind him, and as he slowly turned to face the sound I spotted Vincent over his shoulder, holding a black pistol in both his hands before him. My breaths had turned noticeably harsher and ragged, and I managed to stare over at him in absolute astonishment. "....Vi.....Vincent...."
"...Nnngg..." The man that held me glared unsteadily over at the threatening gunman, and then his face slowly became distorted with rage. "And who do yas think you is...?"
"Drop the girl," Vincent ordered sternly, not moving from his immediate position. "Now."
"Heheh..." The man let out a quiet, intoxicated chuckle, then scowled over at him. "And why..." he dragged me aggressively upward by my wrist, "...do you want to defend such a miserable wretch as this...?"
"I said get away from her," Vincent commanded again, lifting his gun towards the mans face. "Dont question my actions. Just do as I say."
"This girl...shes nothing but a despicable thief..." the drunk continued, holding the knife threateningly close to my throat and causing me to let out a petrified whimper. "I met up wi her while I was mindin my own business.....and the next thing I know, shes gone, and my pockets empty..." He turned back towards me, his blurry, dark eyes boring into mine. "....Now, you wench..." he grumbled angrily. "Give me back my money....all of it, you hear me? Every single coin that you stole from me, understand?"
".....All right...all right....just dont hurt me...." I fumbled clumsily into my clothing, searching for the wallet I had stolen from him earlier and struggling to move against his tight grasp on my hands. "Ive got it all....Just let go of me...I cant find it if you keep--"
"You just keep searchin, bitch!!" he shouted, jerking rampageously on my wrists. "Alla it, you got me?! How am I sposed ta gamble and booze up if some sluts got my damn money...? Whoo, gotta chill out....heads fuzzy..."
"Im not going to tell you again." A clicking noise sounded out from behind the man as Vincent cocked his gun, and I could feel my captor turn tense. "Let go of the girl and take two steps away from her, do you hear me?" Vincent demanded, still not having moved from his position from earlier. "I truly insist you listen to me....the girl might be squeamish at the sight of blood."
"You know what...?" The drunkard exhaled an aggravated snort, then slowly turned towards him. "Ive hadda just about enough of your orders!! Now get outta here before I slit this bitchs throat just ta spite yas!!"
"Oh God.....!!!.." I sobbed deplorably, my voice cracking pathetically from distress.
"Release the girl and get your money back," Vincent retorted in an unnaturally calm tone of voice. "Im sure it would be a great deal easier to continue on your way drinking and gambling with your head still attached."
I could hear the two of them continue exchanging threats, then my eyes sluggishly fell to the flower basket at my feet. At first I had to stare at it for several incoherent moments, then gradually bent to the side and managed to seize its handle softly between my fingers.
Fortunately, the dipsomaniac was too disoriented and too occupied with Vincent to notice my subtle movement. "I said get outta here!!" he yelled turbulently, his eyes now completely focused, to the best of their ability on the handsome man at the entrance the alley. "You think yous can just--"
He stopped as I unexpectedly jerked in his hands, and he immediately spun about to face me once again. As soon as his entire countenance came into view, I swung the basket in my quivering hand with all my force, clubbing him directly across the face and sending a whirlwind of flower petals spiraling into the air. He uttered a surprised grunt and staggered several feet backwards, and I suddenly felt my wrist slip free of his grip. I contiguously tossed the basket to the ground, whirled about, and dashed madly towards the opposite end of the passageway, where I ducked behind the corner and continued running.
The man clutched his face in shock for several seconds, then emitted an aggravated growl, regained his balance, and took off directly after me. "Think you can escape me, bitch!!"
Panting, I drew in a fierce gasp as I came to a dead end. I had managed to flee another five or so blocks by way of the back pathways, and somehow I had taken an incorrect turn and ended up before a tall brick barrier. Several seconds passed, and I had almost succeeded in convincing myself that I was safe when a familiar snickering noise came from behind me. Immediately I whirled about, and I felt a powerful impact convulse through my bloodstream as I spotted the drunk staggering clumsily into the entrance of the alley.
"I warned you..." he huffed, glaring over at me with an amused expression masking his complexion. "I told you that you should watch your ass....cuz your attitude was gonna get chas hurt....Things like that happen to pretty girls everyday....heheh..."
"...N...no..." I stammered fearfully, backing myself towards the all. "Please dont hurt me..."
"Thought you could get away, eh?" he questioned sarcastically, slowly approaching me. "Thought you was so smart....when the entire way you ran...was mapped out by your footprints in the snow...?"
"No.....!!" Tears dripped pathetically down my face, dropping to the ground beneath my feet. I could now see the glimmer of his butterfly knife, still clenched in his fist, in the misty lighting. "...You...you cant do this...!"
"You wont feel a thing, pretty lady..." he sneered, now only maybe a foot or so from me. He placed the dagger lightly against my neck. "Oh sure, you can guess what happened....but while it occurs, Im afraid youll be senseless..."
I screamed as he gave me a swift slash across the cheek and then transversely on my upper torso, then seized my collar and lashed me violently to the ground. Blood splattered to the snow in contrasting red droplets, and I could feel more lacerations forming on my arms and back as the knife whistled above my head several more times. My voice choked miserably in my throat, and I felt the tears streaming down my face. "Help me!!" I finally managed to shriek before my speech dissolved once again into a sob, screech, and silence. "Someone, please!! Cant anyone me??!! Help me, please!!!!"
I sputtered, sending several more drops of blood sprinkling to the snow.
I slowly drifted back into consciousness, revealing a blurry portrait of the scarlet blanket of frost beneath me and the numerous bruises and abrasions raked across my arms sprawled in front of me. My head pounded pathetically with agony, and with a shallow moan I forced myself to lift my head. Tears still streaked uninterrupted down my cheeks, and judging by the echoes sounding around me I must have continued screaming despondently even as I had laid unconscious. I could feel that much of my clothing had been brutally torn away, and I could see the scraps of cloth littering the ground around me. My body burned with several unseen wounds, and my blond hair hung limply before my eyes and around me.
I completely understood what had happened.
I was still choking on my pathetic sobs, and my head slowly fell back to the bloody ground around me. I couldnt tell how long I had been unconscious, since I had no concept of time and the lighting around me had all faded into a painful, throbbing glare through the vicious pounding within my skull. I cried aloud again, my voice echoing around me, but no one came to my aid. The snow still fell lightly around me, like soundless drops of cotton, and the world about me was strangely silent with the exception of my occasional desperate wails. I was completely alone in the alleyway, muddled and suffering, surrounded by several thin trails of my own blood.
The drunken man had obviously departed a long time before, judging by the fact that I could no longer see his footprints in the snow around me. The city seemed to have quieted, depressingly silent and suffocatingly still through the translucent sheet of falling snow. No one could hear my wretched laments. No one could help me.
My mind sent a panicked series of jumbled, uncontrolled messages through my brain as it finally seemed to piece together my situation, and another sob escaped my lips as I could see what I knew the man had done to me while I had fainted. Suddenly a gleam caught my eye, and I soon could recognize the shape of the mans butterfly knife laying before me in the snow. I stared at it incomprehensibly for several seconds, choking in my own stifled wails, then slowly reached forward and took its hilt gently into my hands. Its icy, metallic texture felt cold against my numb skin, and I held the blade delicately before my eyes. I then tediously laid the edge against my wrist, just beneath the palm of my hand, and after a few seconds of disjointed hesitation I slashed it expeditiously across my skin in one swift, sudden motion, then watched as the blood seeped through the wound and began to trickle to the ground. The flow grew steadily faster, and I felt myself growing increasingly weaker.
I collapsed dimly to the snow, which had turned a significantly darker shade of scarlet, and felt my eyes slowly closing. My ears became noticeably deafened by the overpowering silence about me, but through the tumultuous commotion surrounding me I could faintly hear the sound of approaching footsteps, crunching over the newly-fallen snow. There was a brief pause as the sound continued to approach me, but it gradually grew muted as I began to slip away into unconsciousness. All at once a dark shadow fell around me, and I could faintly see the form of a tall silhouette standing above me against the blinding glare of the dim lighting about me. The figure didnt move, only stared motionlessly down at me.
I couldnt move, not anymore. The carpet of blood surrounding my immobile body grew consistently larger, and my panting, fading breaths created small clusters of mist in the icy air. "..........Help me........" I whispered softly, almost inaudibly. ".....Please dont leave me.......dont let me die......" With that, my eyelids fluttered shut, and the last thought in my hazy mind was that they might never reopen again.
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