Akins-Anderson Sydney:They were malefic shadows, or at least looked like what shadows would be if given their own dark volition. Three of them crossed the street in what Sydney thought were trench coats and wide brimmed hats, but he could not really tell for certain. A black mist seemed to surround and permeate their very being. They were not only devoid of light, but sucked in that which was around them. It was like looking into a trio of black holes, and despite eyeless, featureless faces, he knew they were looking back at him.
With gliding steps they approached, passing people who paid the preternatural entities no mind. Whether they were invisible to others or appeared as three teenage Goths, he did not know or care. All he knew was their aura; corrupt, cold, and hungry. The Writer had told him to run. He most certainly would.
Sydney, knowing it was too late to leave by way of the front door, scooped his surroundings. A few people, noticing his panicked expression, gave him looks ranging from puzzled to concern. The Barista approached from the serving window. Head down and with swift steps; he made for the fire exit.
“Excuse me Sir!” the Barista called from behind. Sydney ignored the summons and sped up. Then, with a burst of adrenaline, he shoved the fire door open and ran.
He did not look back as the alarm blared, the sound diminishing as he fled. Instinctively he knew that the shadows were now on the chase. Fueled by the fear that only prey knows, he ran.
The door had opened up into a dirty alley way. Trashcans, cardboard boxes, and dumpsters lined the walls in haphazard ranks. Sydney moved fast but steady. He had taken up jogging a few months back and knew that if he wanted to get distance without burning out then he would have to pace himself. The plan was simple, disappear for about an hour or two and then back track to his car. Hopefully by then the shadows would have given up chase and gone back to whatever noisome realm they called home.
He left the alley and turned onto the sidewalk. Not wanting trouble with over eager police, he slowed to a fast walk. Before long the coffee house and the fire alarms frantic wails were far behind. He glanced about furtively but saw no signs of the shadows.
Just keep walking and everything will work out, Sydney coxed himself. Analyze later, escape now. The rudimentary plan did little to slow his thudding heart, but using it as a silent mantra helped to keep some of the questions at bay. Analyze later, escape now. Analyze later, escape now. Analyze later, escape now.
A few minutes later he realized two things: one, he had left his glasses behind, and two, he had skipped on the bill. The second revelation brought a laugh. All that was going on and he was thinking about a dine and dash. Not only that, the Writer had invited him to the meeting and then left him with the check. Sydney chuckled and shook his head. With a sigh of relief he sat down beside an old man at the bus stop.
“Going anyplace in particular?” the old man asked.
“Not really.” Sydney replied. “Just making a bit of an escape.”
The old man nodded sagely. He coughed a wet ragged sound and pulled his trench coat tighter. Producing a handkerchief, he said: “Sorry sorry, all this cold air is hell all on the lungs. Should probably make an escape myself.” He spat into the black square fabric, inspected his findings, then tucked it back into an inner coat pocket.
“I am Mephistopheles by the way, but my friends just call me Stoph.”
“Pleased to meet you Sydney. So tell me, what are you running from?” Stoph asked.
The question gave Sydney pause, but after a thought he answered: “Considering what’s happened today. . I am not even sure.”
“Then why run if you don’t know what you’re fleeing? Can’t even know you’ll get away. Best to just meet it head on.” The old man replied promptly.
Sydney nodded with feigned consideration. There was no way he was going to try and meet those things head on, best to just ride the bus around town for an hour or two. But to be cordial he said: “I will think about it.”
“Ah, no need for all that.” Stoph replied. “Most things you can’t really escape from anyway. You always carry it in your heart, the memory of it. Physical distance means nothing, at least when it comes to souls. Yes sir, it stays on the soul like a scent or a stain, either one or both or neither. Whatever your pick, that is how we operate, that’s how we found you.”
Sydney opened his mouth to reply but stopped. With a feeling of dread he turned and looked the Mephistopheles full in the face. It was the eyes that caught his attention; two pitch black chasms of awful nothingness.
The old man smiled winningly.
Sydney tensed his legs to flee-
And then the world went black.
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