I didn’t even get both eyes opened and focused before I knew something was wrong.
Where was the color? I was only seeing sepia? Everything was brown. Blinking rapidly, I tried
to readjust my eyes to see if there was any other hue. It didn’t change a thing and for the life of
me I couldn’t figure out why.
Sitting there, I tried to decipher what was going on and why I was sitting on the ground.
Looking down I ran my hand over the dried dusty surface. Why was I on the ground? Craning
my neck as far as I could in all directions, I looked around. Okay, where was the pavement and
cement? The buildings and streets I called my natural turf?
The why’s flying around in my brain suddenly decided the top question, was what the
hell was going on?
Squeezing my eyes shut, I struggled to recall the last thing I remembered doing. I was
hunting down a bounty—a nice one with a large dollar sign attached to her. I had tracked her ass
I confronted her? Yes, I was minutes away from calling Frank and telling him to get out
his shiny pen and sign my check.
So what happened between then and now? Not to sound repetitive, which is something
that drives me nuts, but what the hell was going on?
Startled, I started to check for bullet holes or the deep crevices that knives leave behind
in flesh. That had to be it, I’d taken a beating and this was that in between place you sit when
you’re near death’s door, but not quite ready to see what lies on the other side.
Finding no critical injury, I slumped forward and rubbed my head. There was some
rational explanation for this, there had to be. Had I been drugged? It could be some crazy
hallucination. Any minute now I was going to either wake up in my bed at home or some
hospital with a cheery nurse leaning over me, reassuring me we are going to be just fine. I only
had to wait it out a little longer and all would be normal.
To kill time until I woke up, I looked around some more. Wherever this was it looked
like a burnt out world. Not the charred kind of burn, but depleted and completely used up sort.
Sitting still wasn’t really a strong trait of mine, so I figured I’d get up and take a look
around, there had to be something to see around here. If my body was actually somewhere else
for safekeeping, what harm could come to me, right?
I staggered like I’d never stood before, struggling to get my balance. Whatever was
going on with me, my equilibrium was totally shot. Standing there swaying like grass in the
breeze, I turned carefully trying to see if there was anything around me except rust tinted dirt and
My heart stumbled around in my chest when I spotted someone coming in my direction.
Yes! I wasn’t the only one in this soulless place.
The closer it got to me made me the more I questioned my original conclusion. I didn’t
know, exactly, but it was not someone it was a something. No one label could describe it.
Standing over six feet, it had the shape of a man dressed in jeans and a large, very out of fashion
gingham snap up shirt. When I reached the face, I can only describe it as part wrinkle puppy dog
with floppy skin crossed with Freddy and Jason after the slash scenes.
It stopped in front of me and instinct had me reach around behind me under my jean
jacket for my raptor claw knife, which I put on as regular as underwear when dressing; and that
would be everyday, by the way. Relief washed over me when I felt the small circular handle. At
least while waiting to survive I got to bring my toys with me.
Big brown eyes assessed me slowly and I wanted to make the call that it was harmless,
but yeah, having tracked down anything from a sicko killer to a card shark in the last three years,
I knew better than to fall for sappy looks.
“Are you a magishian? You juisht appeared.”
A male voice, even though he spoke with a heavy lisp that randomly inserted ish into his
words. Then again if I had saggy lips like he did, I’d be happy to talk at all. I sized him up for a
few more seconds, trying to gauge whether he was really in front of me, or if I was having some
sort of psychotic episode. Was a magician good or bad? I decided the play dumb, being blonde
did have some advantages. “A magician?”
Those brown eyes developed a nervous quiver. Magician equaled bad. “No…”
He looked relieved. “Oh good. I didn’t want to have to bash you over the head.”
I grasped my raptor tightly and shrugged. “Yeah, me either.”
The sky brightened and began to glow a rust orange color. When I asked for some color,
I’d hoped for something out of the orange family.
“We better go, they’ll be coming soon.”
“They?” I glanced around quickly, not wanting to take my eyes off him for long.
He nodded and pranced on the spot, the nervous movement had me on high alert. “The
daywalkers.” He whispered.
Daywalkers? Did I even want to know? I didn’t think so, but this bizarre nightmare
wasn’t going to be complete if I didn’t ask.
Looking me over a few times, his eyes widened under the pressure of his drooping
forehead; that was quite the expression. “You’re not one of them are you?”
I walked in the day, night and even at dusk, but I wasn’t going to tell him that. I decided
honesty might work, if not violence was always a good backup. Judging by his expression
daywalker ranked on the bad list with magician. “I—I don’t know what you’d call me.”
Those sappy eyes looked me up and down a few times trying to figure me out. “You
better come with me. It’s not safe to leave you wandering around.” He looked behind him and
then motioned behind me and started walking.
I knew in my gut it was a mistake, but as I had no other real options… I didn’t know
where I was or what was going on and so far he knew more than I did. “Where are we going?”
Pausing he glanced over his shoulder and then lumbered along again. “I’ll take you to
Troy, he’ll know what to do.”
My eyes were starting to strain as the sky brightened. “This Troy, he’s in charge?”
He stopped so suddenly I almost ploughed right into his back. When he turned and
looked at me, his eyes weren’t a sad brown any more but were leaning more towards red. It had
to be from the strange color of the sunrise. “You’re not from Alterealm are you?”
“Is that where we are?”
That nervous jitter of his seemed to return all at one. “How did you get here?”
A reasonable question that I had nothing to offer that resembled an answer. “I don’t
know that either.”
His red eyes darted to the sky. “We have to go.”
Turning, he began jogging toward, well, nothing that I could see. Not wanting to find out
what he was afraid of, I ran along behind him. All I could think was this Troy person, if he was
a person, better have some answers.
He stopped again and dropped down onto his knees. Was he hurt? Surely that short jaunt
hadn’t winded him that much. He began tapping his hand on the ground. What was he doing?
Looking all around us, I kept watch for anything really, not wanting to meet these daywalkers
in the slightest. Just when I’d had about enough of his short break, he grasped something in the
sand and pulled a door in the ground open.
“We’re going to have to use the shortcut. We don’t have time to get to the main gates.”
Looking down into a hole with a ladder, I glanced around again and despite every muscle
in my body telling me to run and get the hell out of here, I started down the metal rungs into a
deep hole that would take me, hopefully back to friggin’ reality.