My View From the Window Chapter 4
By Prism Angel
I had grown up in the city of Midgar all my life, but never in my eighteen years of existence had I ever seen it look so unfamiliar. All the scenery blended into a vast, snow-covered blur, whisping around me like a soft cloud, and the only proof in my mind that I hadn't died from fright back in the apartment was the reassuring grasp of Vincent's cold hand about my left wrist.
The wind howled about me like a rabid animal, scratching at my skin, screeching in my ears. I could faintly hear the sound of my shoes crunching the snow beneath me, and occasionally I could pick up the vibration of a train in the icy air or a conversation between two unfamiliar people. I continued being lead forward, blind to my surroundings, my free hand clutching Vincent's waving jacket for assurance. ....So cold..... I thought dimly, bracing myself against another lash of a gnawing gale. Where is he bringing me....? Vincent, where are we going...?.........
I came to.
"...Wh...what?!" I gazed around me in shock, sitting up from my lying position down on a cushioned row of seats. "Where....where the hell am I?! What's going on?!" I shifted upright, gazing about me with panicked movements. The seats I had been sprawled out on faced another row of the same, maybe three feet from me, where several confused people gaped over at me in a nervous silence. A young girl, maybe of age four or five, clung to her mother in fright, staring at me with wide, frightened eyes. I stared back at them, my breaths slightly ragged, then pushed aside the blanket that had been resting atop my shoulders and stood. "........I.....I don't know who the hell all of you are, and I really don't care!!" I snapped nastily, forcing myself to stay on balance as a surge of queasiness spread through me. "I don't know what you're trying to prove by--"
All at once the large sliding door to my right flew open, revealing the eerie form of Vincent. He immediately strutted into the room, walked over to me, and clapped a hand over my mouth. "Shhh. Calm down. You're ok, see?"
"Mmmmmmmpphh!!" I struggled violently against him, attempting to break away, but he simply turned to the other frightened family sitting across from me, bowed his head respectfully, and dragged me, still fighting angrily against his grip, out into the hallway, sliding the door shut behind him.
As soon as we were in the safety of the corridor, I tore his hand from my mouth and backed myself up against the wall behind me. "Let go of me!! Are you out of your mind?!"
"Shhhh. Be quieter, please." He lifted a finger to his lips. "You're all right, you must calm down."
"What the hell--! Where am I??! What happened?! What have you done--don't you 'shush' me, mister!! I'll be as loud as I goddam want to, you understand me??!"
"Do you want us to get kicked off??" he questioned firmly, seizing hold of my wrist.
" 'Kicked'....??" I stared up at him in silence, then gradually felt myself regaining my composure. "....Where...where are we...?"
"Why don't you listen for yourself...?" He pointed upwards towards the ceiling, and several seconds later I could hear a tumultuous roaring noise ring from somewhere above me, followed by a whistle and a bell.
".......................A train....?" It took several minutes for my disconcerted mind to piece everything together, but I finally turned to face him. ".....We're on a train...?"
He nodded slowly, unbuttoning the top two clasps of his coat. "...Bound for the Gold Saucer. We should be arriving in approximately half an hour."
"The Gold what?" I clumsily followed him, struggling to keep balance as I could feel the floor moving beneath my shoes, as he began walking in the opposite direction. "Wait a second, you, where--"
"...I have a name, you know," he interrupted irritably, turning slightly so he could see my face. "You think you'd be slightly more respectful towards the person who saved your life."
I stared at him in silence for several seconds, and soon he turned and continued down the hallway. I gazed down towards my feet, then back up towards him. "........I'm sorry."
He stopped, then revolved slightly back towards me. I stared back towards him, then lowered my eyes to the floor once again. I heard him exhale a weary sigh, then slowly turn around completely and head back in my direction. "...The Gold Saucer," he replied, halting maybe two or three feet in front of me. "It's a large amusement park built in a tower in the middle of a desert. The bar I work for is catering there today, and I had returned home just to get some odds and ends when I came upon you and that....stranger. That's the last time I leave you alone."
"Hey, wait a second, I don't need you to be my--" I stopped again, then scratched uncomfortably at the back of my neck. "...I...I mean...."
The train halted suddenly, almost causing me to plunge forward onto my stomach. Vincent gazed calmly upwards, then over towards me, clinging weakly to the wall at my right. "......I guess we arrived sooner than expected..."
I emitted a squeal as the sliding door behind me snapped open and several people rushed out, shoving me roughly until I fell forward into Vincent's arms. I blinked several times, gazing up at him, then shifted to my feet and dusted myself off. ".....I...I....ummm....thanks.....I..I mean...I didn't need you to.........what I mean to say is..."
Vincent gazed over at me, then turned away and began heading towards the exit along with the multitude of other passengers. "......You're welcome."
"Holy crap!!" I gasped in awe, surveying the incredible spectacle surrounding me. After Vincent and I had disembarked the train at a nearby station, we had made a short trip into some broken-down community or other before me boarded a large mechanical trolley suspended on a wire that brought us up to what I could only assume was the Gold Saucer. I now stood in a large entranceway, elaborately lit by chains of multi-colored lights, and faintly before me I could hear a tumultuous din of various noises, ranging from joyful laughter to the loud hum of some distant machinery.
"...Come on." I was awakened from my thoughts as Vincent seized my arm and began to drag me towards the large main doorway, leading into the park. "I'm not letting you out of my sight. Let's go."
"Hey, c'mon--!" I pulled against him for a second, then gazed sarcastically up towards his face. "But, daddy, I want a bawwoon!!"
He countenance flushed a faint shade of crimson, and immediately he gave me a rough jerk and dragged me after him. "....Cut it out."
I was too awe-struck by my surroundings to truly pay attention to where he was leading me. The rooms about me was amusingly beautiful, with flickering, rainbow-colored lights and various doors leading to different sections of the park. I had passed several rides that had struck me as entertaining, and within me I could feel a child's curiosity reaching out towards them. I exhaled an internal laugh and gazed towards my feet. What a retard I am.....I want to go on some stupid kiddy rides just because I've never seen them before....Allie, this may be your first trip to an amusement park, but let's hold onto our sanity here, huh?...
".....Here." I was jostled awake as Vincent suddenly stopped walking and I unexpectedly slammed into him. He remained undaunted, but I had to grab for his arm before I was sent sprawling onto my back.
"... 'Here...'?" I glanced around me in confusion, noticing several even rows of betting tables and a large television screen showing clips of various races between bunches of large birds of varying hues and their jockeys. "...And where exactly would 'here' be...?"
".......Don't worry about it." He gazed about him, then noticed a pair of figures standing over by one of the tables, setting up drinks and other various refreshments. He removed his arm from my grip and started over towards them. "...Tifa, Cloud, I'm back."
"..... 'Tifa....'?...... 'Cloud'......?" I had begun to follow him but immediately froze in place. "..............Uh................oh.................."
"You!!!" A man with spiky blond hair, whom I instantly recognized as Cloud, lunged towards me, and with a squeal I leapt backwards. "You're that goddam little flower bitch!!" he snapped nastily, pointing an accusing finger over towards me. "What the hell do you think you're doing here??!"
"Wh...what the hell...?!" The girl I knew as Tifa suddenly came up behind me and seized the bottom edge of my shirt. "These...these clothes....They're mine!! Do you steal clothing along with wallets, you little rat??!"
I ducked protectively behind Vincent, who calmly cast a glance over his shoulder down at me. "....You've met them before, I presume...?"
"Give me back my money, you little cheat!!" Cloud demanded angrily.
"...Wh...what money?!" I retorted, not moving from my position behind Vincent's back. "You barely had any, you cheapskate!! How the hell am I supposed to know where I put it?!"
"Then where'd you get my clothes?!" Tifa snapped. "Did you follow me home or something, you lousy--"
"...I believe I am to blame for that," Vincent interrupted. "You had a large bag of clothes you had been thinking of giving to the orphanage at the bar. I figured you wouldn't notice if I swiped a couple to help a girl in need."
"Girl in need my--" Cloud immediately stopped, then turned to face Vincent. "....You...you mean...that you....you helped this little homeless whore...?"
"Hey, you wait just a--" I began angrily.
"...Yes," he replied, gazing back towards me for several seconds and then directing his vision back up onto the pair of them. "I suggest that you attempt to be slightly more amiable towards her, since after she met up with you she happened to undergo a rather...unfortunate accident."
I froze in place, and then my gaze immediately dropped to my feet, where out of the corner of my eye I could see my wrist, now without bandages, resting weakly against my hip.
"....What are you--" Cloud started.
"Oh my gosh!!" Tifa interrupted loudly, covering her mouth with both hands. "You...you mean she was...was...."
Vincent whipped a finger swiftly in a horizontal line across his throat, signaling for her to remain silent. "..................Yes. I'm afraid so. Which is why I have decided to look after her for a while."
".... 'Look after...'?" Cloud blinked several times. "Whoa-HO, Vin-man, you think you're ready to have a chick under your roof?? You won't try anything, will you???"
Vincent glared darkly over towards him and remained silent. I rubbed the back of my neck uncomfortably, gazing aside. Goddammit... I thought angrily to myself. It figures that out of the whole damn city I gotta meet up with the pair of people I robbed...
I whirled to face the entranceway as all of a sudden a loud commotion of masculine voices could be heard, and all at once a gigantic horde of shouting males rushed into the vast room. As I gaped at them in shock, I could faintly hear Tifa groaning, "....Here they are, right on schedule.....Drunkard, party of five million...."
"Hey dere, sweetie!!" one dizzy man garbled drunkenly, seizing me around the waist and whipping me around next to him. "You wanna come home wi' me tanight? Haha!!"
"Ewwww!!!" I squealed in disgust, shoving him away from me and staggering several steps backwards. "Stay away from me, you nasty jerk!!"
At least two hours had passed--at least, that's what it felt like--and all the men that were being catered to had turned reasonably intoxicated, so much so that ten brawls must have broken out and several had fainted to the floor. I hadn't seen much of Tifa, Cloud, or Vincent at all since the men had arrived--as a matter of fact, I myself had gotten lost in the vast forest of them, avoiding the punches and alcohol that seemed to be splashing everywhere.
"Here ya go, Jack, five hundred gil on numba 17!!" I heard one man say from behind me, and I picked up the sound of numerous coins clinking to the table. I slowly turned about to gaze towards the cluster of conversing alcoholics to my left, then slowly turned and casually began to approach them.
"Here ya go, baby!!" one dunkard belched from a table towards Tifa. "Hows about a little tip for such a--" He stopped, feeling around in his pocket, then angrily got to his feet. "Hey, what da hell!! My money's all gone!!"
"Eh?" Another man, this one stationed at the betting table, searched through his coat as well. "Dammit, you're right--mine is too!!"
"Huh??" Tifa blinked several times, gazing over at the numerous men that continued searching for their wallets. "What in the world....." She suddenly turned and spotted a dark form casually walking out the entranceway, back into the main section of the park. "Hold it right there, you!!" she shouted angrily, placing down the tray she was holding and dashing straight towards the silhouette. "You're not escaping me twice, you little scumbag!!"
Immediately I whirled around, clutching the several small pouches of money against me, then spun back around on my heel and made a mad sprint out through the large door. Several coins fell from my grasp, clinking to the floor. I leapt down past a staircase onto a lower floor and ran to my right, deeper into the park, and ducked into the protective covering of a vast group of amused people.
Tifa stood at the railing above, panting and attempting to locate my position in the crowd. "...Rrrrrr, Vincent!!" she yelled furiously. "That little bitch doesn't seem to learn very quickly!! Now you come out here and help me look for her!!"
"Whew!!" I gasped breathlessly, gazing back out into the square I had managed to run to. "I...I guess I lost her!"
I had no idea where I had ended up; all I know is that I had managed to escape Tifa's field of vision and duck into a rather small multicolored tent, where I hid in the darkness and surveyed the passersby outside. "Heehee..." I giggled triumphantly, gazing down at the wallets I had succeeding in swiping. "Payload!! Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to come here after all!"
"...But they will find you, will they not...?"
I emitted a startled gasp and dropped several pouches to the floor, then whirled about to face the inside of the tent. All of a sudden two dim candles lit simultaneously, revealing the murky form of a woman sitting atop a pillow towards the back of the recess. She sat amongst a great deal of small treasure boxes and dream catchers, along with other unusual items I had never seen before. She waved her hands over the crystal ball before her, then gazed up at me through her dark glasses. "........Do you want me to read your fortune?"
I stared back her for several seconds, then cautiously placed the pouches of money to the floor and approached her. ".....Umm...I...I guess so..." I replied softly, ducking to avoid a hanging windchime.
"Excellent." She gestured towards a second pillow situated on the other side of the crystal ball across from her. "Then sit down."
I gradually sank down into a kneeling position and eyed her uncomfortably. "Umm...I--"
"Shhhhh!!" she hissed loudly, lifting her hands to the side of her face. "The spirits--they speak!! They can sense a great deal of mystical energy coming from you, my dear."
Oh God, this is such a waste of my time.... "You know what, I think I changed my mind, " I told her, getting to my feet. "I guess I'll just be--"
"They tell me you do not believe," she interrupted, pointing a finger over towards me. "I suggest you do not make conclusions until you hear what I have to say, Allie."
I froze, gaping down at her. "..............How.......how did you--"
"Why don't you have a seat, my dear, and let me read your fortune?" She watched me as got back down on my knees, then extended her hand towards me. "Let me see your palm."
I slowly held my hand out towards her, and she took it in hers and began to study it. "......I can sense something..." she whispered, closing her eyes as she ran her fingers over my palm. "I...I sense....another power.....as if there's someone else here with you...."
"Umm..not that I--"
"Silence!! She speaks!!" She lifted her head. "I cannot hear you, my dear....Speak up..."
"But I didn't--"
"Hush!!" she hissed angrily. "Who are you, my dear? Why do you reside within this girl..?" She closed her eyes and lowered her face to the floor. "Louder, my dear, I still can't hear..... 'Help'..... 'I need help....'....?"
"Ok, lady, I think that I'm going to--"
"This woman within you.....you have heard her name, have you not?" She gazed over towards me, seemingly awakened from her trance. "A man you have become rather close to....He seems to despise this name, doesn't he...?"
"What are you--" I stopped suddenly, gaping over at her in silence. ".................You.......you mean 'Lucrecia...'?"
"....Yes....yes, I can sense her..." The fortune teller raised her face to the ceiling again. "She...she says she needs help..."
".....Who...who is she...?" I asked softly, gazing over towards her.
"Aha!!" I whirled about as Tifa suddenly burst into the tent, followed by Cloud and Vincent. "Thought you could escape me, huh?? We-hell, my dear girl, you're going to march right back up there and give all those men--"
"Silence!!" the woman screamed, thrusting her hand out towards them. "The spirits do not wish to be interrupted!!"
"Spirits?? Ha!!" Tifa scoffed sarcastically. "Ok, lady, you can do all the hocus pocus you want to, but--"
"I am in the middle of contact!!" the woman snapped. "Interrupting again might drive them all into a rage!!"
"Keep talking," I told her softly. "I...I want to know what she wants...."
"Eh...?" Cloud blinked. "Who're talking to?"
The woman released her hold on my palm, then turned and opened a small treasure chest to her right. "It is not important..." She pulled out a deck of Tarot cards, then spread them all face-down before me. "I have lost contact with her. Now I must work myself to find what relation she has to you, my dear girl...."
She reached forward and seized a random card, then held it up for me to see. It depicted a large hooded figure, enveloped in darkness. ".... 'Shadow'...." she said softly, gazing at the picture. "That suggests a stranger of some sort, does it not...?"
I gasped quietly. "...Y...Yes!! Yes it does!! Who is he??"
"This card had been resting atop this one..." She held up a second card, revealing the image of a mirror. " 'Reflection'.......was the stranger familiar to you at all, Allie? Did you recognize him from anywhere?"
"Huh??" I blinked several times. "...No, not that I--"
"But then you did, didn't you, Vincent?" she interrupted, turning towards his silhouette at the entranceway. I turned towards him, my hands clasped over my heart.
His expression remained unmoving. ".........Yes."
"Heheh..." She pulled out a final card, revealing a large skeleton holding a scythe. "........'Death'.......... My dear girl, I think you're being warned to stay away from this man...." She gazed back over at Vincent, who still hadn't moved. "And it also suggests that you have quite a task on your hands, Mr. Valentine...."
He remained silent.
"....Now," the woman continued, running her hands over the cards before her. "Let's see about this other woman, shall we....?" She closed her eyes, as if listening to some inaudible voice, then took hold of one card and lifted it up to her face. Several seconds of silence elapsed, and suddenly she let out a soft, eerie laugh. ".........I see..." she chuckled quietly. "I understand now...is that what you've been trying to tell me...?"
"What??" I lifted myself up in an attempt to see the card. "Which one is it?? What does it mean??"
She didn't budge for a second, then slowly turned the card to face me. " 'Time'..." she said softly, removing one of her hands to reveal the picture of an enormous clock. "The time card always symbolizes rebirth..."
"Huh??" I blinked. "...I...I don't understand..."
"....No, I suppose you wouldn't," she replied, lowering the card. "After all, you don't seem much like the religious type..."
"Well??" Tifa questioned impatiently from the doorway. "What's it mean??"
The woman remained silent for a second, then slowly shifted her gaze up towards my face. "........You,my dear Allie......." she said softly, pushing down her glasses in order to see me more clearly, ".....are Lucrecia's very own reincarnation."
~ End of Chapter Four ~
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