CHAPTER TWO

She was perfectly still, entangled in a sea of sheets. She stared up at the ceiling, the silence that hung in her mind echoing in dissonant intervals, in between the voices that had plagued her dreams. Voices that were so far away yet close enough to scratch the scrim of her heart and envelope it in uncertainty.

Sarah remembered his voice. It was the most distinct yet the most unnerving thing she had heard since she had last seen Eric—nearly five years ago—and even then, his voice had sounded almost unfamiliar to her.

And now, Sarah could hear the vibrations of the inflections in his voice as it resonated off the walls of her room, throughout the halls of her apartment. His voice was everything but unfamiliar. She cringed as she remembered it in all of its entirety, only one word reaching her ears.

"Sarah…"

She closed her eyes tightly and rolled over onto her side, her hands instinctively reaching up to cover her ears. A small part of her heart wished that his voice would stop completely, while another part of her—a wistful, unthinkingly naive part of her—wanted this voice to do nothing but keep speaking to her, regardless of whether or not it was actually Eric's.

It can't be Eric's, said a different voice that whispered to her seemingly from afar, yet deep within. He's dead.

Her eyes opened at the reinstatement of that simple fact, yet it was far from the unwanted truth that remained hidden in the depths of her spirit.

David, his name suddenly came to mind, and she smiled slightly, glancing down at her left fore finger.

David was her fiancé, as well as an astute pharmaceutical sales representative, and was always out of town on business for constant negotiations and expansions. This week he was in Flint.

They had met three years ago at a Christmas party hosted by David's aunt, Lorna, who was also a secretary that worked alongside Darla at the police station where Officer Albrecht had recently employed them both. What was a shameless attraction grew into love, and the fear that she had felt upon unleashing her secrets and thoughtlessly painful past diminished with even the mention of his name.

They had moved further into the city of Detroit together the following year, and her apartment—their apartment—now echoed the distance that hung between them, and the quietness that she had grown accustomed to since he had left on his business trip two days ago.

He knew about Shelly, the murders, the gang. She had told him about Draven's resurrection, Top Dollar—the Crow.

And even though he had willingly and unthinkingly accepted it as fact, there was still doubt in his eyes, in his voice, his reassurance whenever they spoke of Eric and Shelly. He would regard them as objects of her affection that were indifferently unreal.

A tiny part of her heart had wondered if he even believed her at all—if even her love for him could be doubted, uprooted in the cruelest way. Yet he had always nurtured her sanity, hoisting her back from the brink of madness when she had been consumed so many times before by the loss of her two greatest friends. He comforted her when she cried, held her when she could not control herself when they went to visit Eric and Shelly's graves—and even then, she could feel his heart beat with scepticism.

Shaking her head, Sarah attempted to dismiss the thought.

She remembered how sorrowful he had once looked, even before his return to the Afterlife. His eyes, two twin spheres of obsidian, framed in a face as white as snow, and lips that had formed a soft, sad smile upon seeing her again, so young and innocent still.

She closed her eyes, her lips trembling as she felt the first of many tears.

"What are you supposed to be? A clown or something?"

"Sometimes."

She held onto the intonations in his voice and rested back against the headboard, clenching her eyes tightly.

Behind her eyes she began to see fleeting images—the beginnings of what could have been a pleasant dream.

She was a child again, rebellious and carefree, sitting at the window of the loft in Eric and Shelly's old apartment. It was summer and the sun shone through and into the room, brightening the matcing smiles that were on Eric and Shelly's faces as they competed in a game of checkers, with Sarah keeping score.

Eric crowned himself the winner, mistakably so, as he soon found out—as Sarah and Shelly exchanged glances and out rightly tackled him to the floor in a disarray of giggles, with Eric quickly giving up his victory and succumbing to the "fight".

She smiled faintly in her stupor, but it quickly faded as more images—ghastly and repulsive—turned this dream into another nightmare. She caught sight of a broken down door—

Blood—so much blood—and a gun, emptied from use.

She heard laughter and the sound of shattering glass.

And then came the sirens—

Sarah screamed and all at once her eyes snapped open and she leapt to her feet, tripping over furniture as she escaped her room, the paintings and pictures on the walls taunting her to get out.

She ran down the steps of her apartment building, off the stoop and into the snow, around the corner, all the while her breath catching in her throat and the tears continuing to flow down her pale cheeks.

She didn't see the shadows that watched her every move.

She didn't see the Crow that followed.