For a moment Alex saw a picture of herself laying on a bloody floor... brains splattered on the concrete...
I'm dead. I'm dead. I'm dead!
Then she realized, she couldn't breathe! While true that dead people are dead, and therefore can't breathe, dead people didn't NEED to breathe.
But she needed to.
It was then she realized her eyes were closed, although opening them didn't make much of a difference at first. She opened her mouth and saw bubbles floating past her face...
She was in water! She twisted herself around and kicked. She was so far down... her head was pounding... She struggled in the water, her lungs felt as though they were about to burst! Finally she burst out into the open air. Gasping breath, coughing out water.
Her eyesight was blurry, her head was pounding, for a second she went back under… but she grabbed a platform, and yanked herself up. Finally out of the water she cried out in pain.
Pain... pain is good... it means you're still alive... still alive...
She found herself standing up... there was a door behind her, there was a ladder too, but she was far too exhausted to try it. When on the other side of the doorway, she collapsed.
Fiona found a large door, it was locked. She remembered the key the woman in black gave her, pulling it out she unlocked the doors and stepped inside...
She felt as though she'd just stepping into a music hall. And really that was what it was.
There were dozens of seats and in front of a brightly lit stage, a piano stood center stage... Fiona stepped on to the stage walking over to the piano. Each step let out a little creak. As she did she stepped forward she heard something crack. Jumping back she looked down.
It's a trap door. It seems very old... like it could collapse...
All of sudden the piano began to play, running over to it, she saw no one, realizing it was a player piano. It could play on its own. For a few frantic moments, she managed to stop the piano... She let out a sigh of relief.
She heard a creek of the wood stage behind her. She whirled around, to face what was now behind her-
He stepped on to the stage, she ran back to the other side of the stage, but it was a dead end! She turned around to face him. "Stop this! Please!"
Donegan stopped. Shaking his head. "You should know... this isn't easy for me... none of this has been. But I have no choice! I'M the head of this family! It's MY responsibility!"
"How do you even know I have what you want?" She was trying to buy herself some time. Distract him, then run past him...
"Fiona... the name Aureolus Belli is well known in this household, and I expect the households of other alchemists..." He took a step closer.
Fiona considered his words... Others?
"That's right... alchemy is not a dead science. While the world may have forgotten us, we live and thrive in privacy, for most would consider our work sacrilege... or lunacy... No alchemist is more adored or profound as Aureolus Belli. It was rumored he'd found the key to... eternal life... by taking the Azoth that is latent in all of us and amplifying it." Another step.
Fiona took a step back. A little closer... then I'll run…
"Imagine my surprise to hear that my granddaughter had befriended Aureolus Belli's descendant?"
Fiona felt her heart clench. "Alex...?"
"It was no accident. It must have been fate that brought you together! Then brought you to me...!"
He took another step forward, and Fiona bolted, hoping to run past him. Donegan cut her off grabbing her arm. Fiona let out of cry of pain as he twisted her arm.
"YOU MUST SUBMIT!"
Hewie jumped on his back biting into his neck, he cried out in pain but would not let go!
For a few seconds they struggled, Donegan managed to throw Hewie off. Fiona pulled back while Donegan fell forward.
There was a loud crack and Fiona felt something give. The trap door from before broke and Mr. Reynolds fell. Fiona heard him scream as he fell, and a sick crack when he landed. She started into the hole, she could see nothing below.
Hewie came forward with a little limp and let out a whine. Fiona went to him and stroked his neck.
She ran away from the stage and back down the hall when she heard something rumble. Turning around, Fiona saw a door! She could have sworn it wasn't there before… She knew she shouldn't go in, but there didn't appear to be another way to go. She stepped through.
The other side of the door was a long hallway going to both her right, and her left. The hall was very cramped. It was only a few feet wide. Honestly, it was more like a crawlspace. She went right, feeling tired and sick. Another man dead.
It was getting harder and harder to tell herself that it wasn't her fault.
After a few more feet the hallway opened up to a large stone staircase, going up. It was very dark, the only light coming from dimly lit light bulbs, some of which were burnt out or flickering.
Suddenly Hewie stood up at attention. Fiona saw him tilt his head, he seemed confused.
Fiona looked in the direction he was looking, when she heard footsteps…
From the dark, came that woman in black she'd seen before…
"Who… who are you?" She asked.
The woman snickered at Fiona… before taking off her black veil.
It was Alex.
Relief and frustration welled in her all at once. She had no idea what was going on, but just seeing Alex alive and well was enough to spring tears to her eyes. "Alex! What's going on? Where have you been?"
Alex snickered again, and then walked over to the wall. "I'm tired of waiting."
Her voice seemed a little off. It was a slightly higher pitch…
Alex reached up and pulled an axe from the displays on the wall. Fiona backed away. "No!"
"I want to taste it, the Azoth." Alex stepped forward, axe it hand. "I WANT IT."
Hewie whined, he didn't know what to do.
Fiona's eyes stung with tears. "Alex… please!"
"GIVE IT TO ME!"
Alex brought the axe down nearly hitting Fiona. Fiona ran towards the stairs and up them as fast as she could. She could hear Alex running after her, laughing. Fiona could hear the sound of the axe cutting through the air, and sometimes clinking on the walls as she missed her target.
Fiona saw a door ahead; she opened it and ran out into the blackness, tripping on the overgrown weeds.
Alex was there in a moment, laughing at her.
Fiona sobbed. "Alex! Please don't do this!"
Alex just smiled, lifting the axe over her head as Hewie leapt forward and bit into her leg. Alex screamed in pain and terror, fighting to get away from Hewie.
When she finally wrestled herself away, Alex limped back to the staircase, sobbing.
Fiona stood up, running back and closing the door behind her…
Leaning against the door, Fiona cried.
Alex tried to kill her. The one person she thought she could trust tried to kill her.
But why! Why now? It doesn't make any sense!
She didn't want to believe it, but she couldn't deny what she saw.
Alex had betrayed her.