"Doesn't it get lonely?"
He paused for a moment, fingers ghosting over the controls. "From time to time," he replied evenly, his tone barely changing. My frown cleared as I joined him near the controls, leaning backwards against the cool metal console. He glanced over, blue eyes unreadable. "It always seems so much better through someone else's eyes."
One: The Chase Is On
It started off as regularly as ever, the day I met him. Them. Her... I'd just come from class and hopped off the bus three stops early, as usual, to pop into the library until they closed just before dark. I had homework to do, of course, though I really couldn't be bothered doing any of it. Still, I figured if I took the books home, it might inspire me to jot down a few notes to make it seem like I was trying. I wasn't, if I had to be honest. I was only doing the history course because I had no idea where my life was headed.
So there I was, milling about in the section focussed on the Evolution of Man, browsing for something I might like to read and base my thesis on. Not that I had any idea what my thesis might involve, but nonetheless, I wanted to do something with early settlements and the way us humans had developed. I found several works that sounded interesting, but more for private reading than actual work, and slipped them all back on the shelf with reluctant sighs. Books were my lifeline, lately; so much better than television or movies, since books forced you to think and use imagination.
So engrossed was I just being in the presence of so many wonderful pieces of literature that at first, I didn't notice that there was someone else in the same aisle at me, half looking at the same books I'd just discarded and half looking very intently at me. I passed it off for a moment or two, thinking that maybe she recognised my face from the bakery or from school, or perhaps she was just staring at my lime-green glasses. I've never needed glasses, but I've always thought they made me look smarter. Playing to stereotypes was always my forte.
Anyway, I barely paid this woman the slightest bit of attention, until of course she started to speak. "God, you're so young." Her voice was familiar, light with just the slightest husky undertone. I turned to look at her briefly, and found her baby blue eyes locked on me hungrily, as if this was the last chance she'd get to properly see me. She raised a silky, pale hand and swept the light brown bangs out of her eyes, tucking them behind her ears half-hidden by the multi-coloured, chequered golfing hat, and I noticed a shiny, fresh scar running from the base of her thumb across the back of her hand.
"I'm sorry?" I asked, certain she was talking to me as there was nobody else nearby. Her lips flickered in just the barest hint of a smile and I found myself smiling back despite my misgivings and my confusion- there was something about her that made me want to share her secrets. Or have her share mine, whichever was more appropriate.
She stepped closer to me and I didn't back away, even as she leaned in very slightly, studying me all over. I stayed still without knowing why, and she moved away a moment later. "I never realised just how young I- you are. So innocent, safe in a little bubble of ignorance. It's almost tragic..."
Following her lead, I took a few steps in the opposite direction, eager for a bit of a larger gap between me and her. I didn't think she was dangerous, a little odd perhaps, but not dangerous; but I still didn't want to be standing right beside her. Just in case. "Um... okay then," I said, forcing my smile to stay on my face as I ducked into the next aisle, thinking myself safe. Until I caught sight of her eyes peering at me through the shelves.
"Your life's about to change you know," she said. I couldn't see more than her eyes, but I could practically hear the haughty grin in her voice.
I snorted in reply; "I highly doubt it. Unless I win the lottery..."
Her eyes crinkled slightly at the corners and they gained a pretty glint to them, one that once again I found infectious. The drawling of her voice as she retorted quickly made me second-guess my own self-doubt- "It's something much better than that." I ducked to try and see more of her through the shelves, almost regretting putting the space between us.
"Who are you, again?" I asked, curious and just a bit confused. She hadn't told me her name- not that I'd asked for it, but it would still be nice. The way she acted like she knew something I didn't was a bit irritating to be honest, and more than a little unnerving, but I was willing to play along. If this was the biggest adventure I was ever going to have, so be it. A mysterious girl in a library.
She giggled lightly before replying, that same scarred hand brushing across her forehead as if to wash away wrinkles- odd, I had that very same habit. "A... friend. Well, I will be. Technically." She didn't sound so sure herself, and I rolled my eyes.
"Right... and that's not deliberately mysterious, at all," I drawled, forcing as much sarcasm into my tone as possible.
"You love it," she shot back, a gap between books allowing me a full view of her face- a heart-shaped face framed with stylishly messy light brown bangs, sporting two wide blue eyes and a sly grin that practically screamed superiority.
"How would you know?" I retorted just as quickly, challenging her now. Two could play this game, I thought devilishly, as we were reduced to locking eyes over the spines of books once again.
Her voice, when she next spoke, was soft and almost a whisper. Her tone was fond and warm, almost longing, and tinged with just a little sadness. "I know you better than you'd think, Kiarna." For a moment, I couldn't get over her tone and how wistful she'd sounded when she said it; and then I realised.
I wasn't wearing my name badge, nor did anything in my possession bare my name. Not my full name, anyhow; I gasped and pulled three books down to get a proper look at her, my green eyes narrowed in suspicion and my heart racing properly now. This was all getting just a bit too adventure-y for my tastes. "How do you know my name? Who are you?" I hissed, trying to sound strong and demanding.
She just gave me that same lazy grin as before and rested her chin on the shelf, her eyes gazing at me with an expression of utter amusement. I found it slightly patronising, and a little dismissive. "It doesn't matter now. What does matter is that in a few minutes, you're going to meet somebody; a very lonely and broken man. He'll take your hand and tell you to run- trust him, and he'll save your life, and in return you'll save his," she paused for breath here, having spurted everything in one sentence that hardly seemed to use punctuation. Her tone softened as she finished and her eyes held a look of such love it made me burn with jealousy, the kind of jealousy that came from wanting what she obviously had. "He'll be the best thing to ever happen to you, and... most importantly, he will answer all the questions you don't know you have," she said very quietly, her eyes meeting mine as if trying to ram that point home. I nodded, and she disappeared.
I could hear her footsteps on the carpet; she wasn't being exactly quiet. Did she... want me to follow her? Either way, I was right behind her as I dropped my library bag near the computers and hurried after her for the doors, trying not to run. "Wait! Please, I don't understand!" I called, a little louder than necessary.
She spun around, brown-black hair flying, and sported that grin again. It seemed like she never stopped grinning, as if my confusion and curiosity was one big cosmic joke to her. "Rule one! The Doctor lies!" she called. I nearly tripped on my own feet as she burst out the door and I was three steps behind.
I wasn't surprised to find that she was at the bottom of the big concrete steps leading onto the street, and she pushed off from the pillar as I started to descend after her, crying; "What?"
"Rule two! Don't wander off!" She was walking backwards now, full of grace and agility that I envied. I wasn't the most athletic person out there in the slightest; I'd much rather watch a game of football than actually be involved. I didn't have the co-ordination for it, for starters.
"You're the one wandering off! Just stop a minute, would you? Wait!" I was shouting now, fully aware of how loud and how much attention I was drawing. The brown-haired girl spun around on her blue-Chucks-covered feet and broke into a skipping run, half turned to make sure I was following and half making sure I never caught up completely.
She didn't seem bothered at all by the pace she was setting, as if she knew my curiosity would stop me from abandoning the chase. And damned if she was wrong; I wouldn't let her get away without some sort of answer, even if I got lost on the way. "Rule three! If he tells you to run, you run!" she laughed at that one, leaping into the air and spinning around, almost dancing away from me.
I envied her stamina, her grace, her agility- and her shoes, those royal blue Chucks. I'd always, always wanted shoes like that. "Wait! I just want to ask you something! Please!" I was panting now, almost out of breath and almost out of puff. How much further was she taking me? As curious as I might have been, I would not be chasing her halfway around Cardiff.
She skidded to a stop suddenly, and I stopped too, about a foot away from her. She gave me a serious look and held up one finger, shaking it in my face with a stern expression. "Rule four- he's not always alright. If you remember nothing else, remember that one- he's not always alright." I reached out to hook my hands in her jacket- a leather one, two sizes too big for her but it somehow seemed right. She dodged me and looked almost panicked at how close I'd gotten.
"I just- want to- ask something!" I panted, resting my hands on my knees now. She giggled and smoothed a hand over her forehead and up across the crown of her head, flattening out her lopsided hat so it wouldn't fall off. Again, I noticed the scar, and again I noticed how we shared that same unusual habit. When she didn't move for a second or two, my hope rose- until something chimed on her wrist, and she glanced at her odd-looking watch with a jolt of surprise.
"Oops," she muttered, before looking at me slyly and starting to skip backwards- darn her- away from me. "We're late!" she shouted, spurring me into chasing after her again. Late for what? She still hadn't told me her name! Or how she knew mine! Or what she meant by all those rules!
I rolled my eyes as I ran, which was a mistake as I stumbled on a loose pavestone. I managed to recover in time, but gave an almighty curse- "Bloody hell!"- before straining to double my pace. The brown-haired girl gave me a concerned look but didn't slow down. "Give a girl a break- who are you?" I shouted desperately, my heart and lungs burning with the exertion of running so far so fast. The mystery girl whipped around a corner into an alley, the ends of her leather jacket flying. I flew after her, still shouting. "And how do you know-" I rounded the corner, skidding to a halt and sending little stones flying from under my feet. "My name?" I finished quietly; the alley was a dead end, and it was deserted.
There was a door to my left, but it was locked and when I tried it, the cobwebs over the hinges were undisturbed, showing it hadn't been opened for years. There was nowhere else that girl could have gone- she had disappeared into thin air. But that wasn't- couldn't be- possible! People don't disappear into thin air... do they?
So, there is the pilot chapter! How goes it?
More coming next Thursday, 31th May 2012. Updates weekly thereafter; that is a certainty, as I've completed this story.