Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Forget-Me-Not Child | Prologue

The bridge seemed to stretch on and on to impossible lengths, the beginning and end hidden in a mist that rose up from the unseen waters below. Even the headlights did nothing to open a path through the fog, which only made Riley's unease grow as the car flew dangerously fast across the obscured road. The driver, however, didn't appear to be hindered by the unsettling murk, and stared straight ahead as if he could clearly see the way, his foot never easing from the gas pedal.

   From the passenger seat, Riley watched the sky go orange and pink as the sun began to set. As it grew darker, her heart pounded quicker with the building fear in her chest. She gripped the edge of her seat tightly, her whole body tensed in anticipation of the oncoming danger. Without taking his eyes off the road, the driver reached over and patted Riley's white knuckles with a hand. "Don't worry, Katorina," he murmured to her, voice low and thick with some exotic accent, "You'll be alright. I won't let anyone hurt you, I promise."

   It wasn't her name, but Riley didn't correct the driver because she needed the reassurance, even if it came from a stranger. She smiled gratefully up at him to reply, "Thank you, sir. I don't know who you are, but I am comforted knowing I'm safe at your side." Much to Riley's surprise, her response was coated in the same foreign lilt as the driver's. The man's expression hardened imperceptibly at her words, but Riley didn't notice as she relaxed back into the protective embrace of her seat.

   As if on cue, something heavy slammed into the side of the car with enough force to tip the vehicle onto two wheels. The driver swore and yanked the steering wheel to the right, swerving to avoid something that Riley couldn't see, as the car settled roughly back on all fours. Several more objects hit the car in quick succession, and she could both feel and hear the powerful impact as they rammed into the doors, the trunk, the hood, and the roof. A sharp crack on Riley's window created a fist-sized indent that spider-webbed out across the glass. Whatever caused it had disappeared within the blink of an eye.

   "Get down, Katorina," the driver ordered, pushing her head down before she could duck out of sight herself, "and don't look out the window." Riley flinched as another object smashed into her window, this time shattering it a bit and sending tiny shards tinkling into her hair. She couldn't help but to give the broken glass above her a glance, and regretted it when an unearthly face slid past with a shriek.

   There was a squeal of metal, prolonged like fingernails drawn antagonistically slow down a chalkboard, and it grated into every fiber of her being. Riley buried her face into her hands, but the image was painted onto her eyelids now; all she saw was the blank, black eyes with no irises, and the jagged teeth that belonged in the mouth of a predatory animal. That jack-o-lantern grin would haunt her for the rest of her life, Riley was sure. That is, if she ever got out of this alive. The thought drew a shudder over her body like a blanket, and Riley squeezed her eyes tightly shut.

This was only a dream, Riley knew, because she had dreamt these happenings before. But why did this time feel so real: the sting of the nicks on her arms from broken glass, the wind snapping her hair against her neck, and the smell of burning rubber?

   A terrible sound rent through the roaring in Riley's ears and she felt the car buck beneath her with a crippling shudder before the her head was ripped backwards. Suddenly, the world was torn away from her eyes, and all Riley felt was that she was spinning, spinning down...

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