Shadows of the Past
: Chapter 1 by A.Myers85
Book of the Month contest entry
Artwork by cleo85 at FanArtReview.com
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.|
I grew up in the shadow of the supernatural. My parents, obsessed with proving its existence, spent countless hours chasing false leads, analyzing myths from different cultures, and researching dead ends. Unfortunately, they didn't care about my brother or me--I'm not even sure why or how they found time to have us! So, while they pursued their paranormal illusions, my brother stepped into the role of Father/Mother/caretaker. Often, when left alone, I called him "Dad." He looked amused at first, but as the years passed, he took it more and more seriously. Then, the summer I turned six, he vanished for multiple nights. He never explained where he went, and even though he assured me he was all right, I still saw him limping home, saw the bruises and cuts he tried to hide. Then, on my birthday, he surprised me with enough money to pay for me to attend kindergarten. He sacrificed a lot to raise me- more so than our blood donors--and I lost the only father I've ever known because of them.
I stop writing and stare at my paragraph. Somehow, I can't continue. I can't explain what happened next, despite it happening over ten years ago. Eyes squeezed shut, I slam my journal closed and shove it away. Yet, the memories come anyway--endless echoes of the past.
Unable to stop, I ran.
Dark chuckles trailed me, his footsteps an easy, unhurried pace. Whimpering, I pushed myself faster, casting frequent glances over my shoulder as I clawed aside gnarled tree branches. Where's my brother? Why isn't he here? He said he'd always protect me. Spying a cluster of trees in the distance, I dove toward them and crawled into an opening at the base of one of the trunks. Desperate to quiet my panicked breathing, I pressed my back against the bark, hugged my knees to my chest, and buried my face. More laughter reverberated in the air. Eyes squeezed shut, I clapped my hands over my ears. Go away and leave me alone!
"Peek-a-boo, I see you."
His voice echoed in my ears. I bolt upright, and seeing shadows dancing closer, two claw-like hands stretching towards me, I screamed and scrambled to my feet. Seconds later, I flew off my feet, yanked backward by an unexpected force. Those same claw-like hands wrapped around one, one snaking around my waist and pinning my arms at my sides while the other muffled my cries. Above me stood a man--no creature I believed only existed in storybooks and my nightmares. Backlit by the moonlight, I couldn't see much, but I still glimpsed the telltale pale skin, and then his lips peeled back, revealing a row of unmistakable fangs, gleaming white and sharp.
"Is this her?"
Two more figures joined us, bent the waist and breathing hard. Seconds of silence passed, and the taller one straightened, his face visible. It was my father!
"Yes," he said. "She's yours. Now give us what you promised."
A hand touches my shoulder.
Gasping, I flinch away, torn out of my memories, and lock gazes with a startling pair of silver-blue eyes.
"Annie," Silver-Blue Eyes holds his hands up, showing he won't hurt me. "Annie, it's me. It's Gabriel."
Blinking once, twice, three times, I stare at him. Slowly, the dark forest backdrop vanishes, replaced by a wood-paneled room with a well-stocked bar as its centerpiece. Nearby patrons glance towards me, but most ignore me and carry on with their conversations.
"Gabriel?" I ask, uncertain.
He smiles and moves closer, hands outstretched. "It's me."
Vision blurring, I scramble out of my seat and tackle him. Instantly, his arms open, and he holds me close. A few nearby conversations cut off abruptly, and I hear a distant "Is she all right?" The deep rumble of Gabriel's voice answers, but I can't hear his words. I don't care. I wiggle closer, fingers clinging to his shirt, anything to anchor myself in the present.
"It's okay," Gabriel whispers. "I'm here now. You're safe." Then a moment later, his voice pitched low, and for my ears only, he repeats those same three words again. "You're safe, Annie."
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