I was finally free.
That dreaded castle was long gone now, and I breathed a sigh of relief; knowing that I never had to relive that nightmare again. It was a miracle that I even survived. I looked down and smiled at the White German Shepherd beside me, who was looking at me with curious eyes. If it weren't for Hewie, I would've never made it.
So here I was, back to normal civilization. I had shown those crazy lunatics who was boss and escaped. At first, everyone was very sympathetic and concerned. My friends, living relatives, people I knew. They fussed over me and asked me if I was okay. "Where were you?" They'd ask. Again and again, I'd tell them what happened. How I was chased. How those people tried to get my 'Azoth' and confined me in a dark castle. How I ran and ran until I thought I was going to die. But then they'd always look at me with a strange expression. "She's just had a long day." They'd exclaim.
Now everyone thought I was crazy. I could see it in the looks on their faces; the way they looked at each other with worry and the pity they had in their eyes when they saw me. It wasn't until a few hard weeks later was I finally able to accept the fact that everyone just thought I was traumatized, disturbed and unstable. No one believed me. All through these agonizing times, Hewie was my only comfort. The pup was always at my side and undeniably loyal. He knew the truth, the hardships we went through together. We would look at each other with knowing. When I pointed out Hewie to the others, how he helped me from the people who tried to kill me, they never listened. They just treated me like a patient from a mental hospital. I wouldn't be surprised if they sent me to one soon.
The police were sympathetic enough to lead a small investigation. They listened to what I told them and searched the location. However, when they returned, they only came back claiming it wasn't there. It was nothing but forest and the sea and rocks. I went there myself, trying to show them it existed. That I wasn't crazy.
But they weren't lying.
I stood in the vast, empty space that used to hold the once great, yet terrifying structure of the Belli castle. There was nothing to see except the trees beyond in the forest, and the nearby ocean waves crashing into the rocks below. I couldn't believe my eyes. "It was all here!" I had screamed, feeling a sense of loss and hopelessness as the investigators looked at me with distress and benevolence. Surely there was some kind of explanation? I wandered to the forest. There had to be at least something there. I had ran through it numerous times from that raving Riccardo. Something that looked familiar, perhaps. But as I walked between the trees, there was nothing. Nothing that was present when I was there. The paths were different and I didn't recognize anything. Even the road I crashed on with my parents was empty. No broken down car.
"I'm not lying!" I had yelled in protest as they tried to carry me away, "I'm not crazy!"
Now I am here, in this old tiny house that belongs to my grandmother. I am not allowed out of bed except for bathroom breaks and the occasional walk around outside. I have been told that I am being kept here for my own safety. "You are in a fragile state of mind, you need rest." My grandmother said. She wanted to take Hewie away too, but I begged her to let him stay. She finally agreed to let him stay "for now." My old life had been torn away from me. I had no chance to return to the way I lived before, studying for exams and laughing with friends. People were convinced I couldn't conform, in my 'fragile state of mind.' I longed to be normal again. But at the back of my head, I didn't at the same time. To think the world outside and everyone was going on with their lives, as if nothing had happened, disgusted me. I could never go out and hang out with my old friends. They all seemed so ignorant to me now. So…naïve.
At night, I had nightmares. I would dream of Riccardo chasing me relentlessly with his gun, of Daniella chasing me with her sharp shard of glass, of Debilitas' big form trying to grab me with his giant monster hands, or Lorenzo crawling after me at the speed of light. And sometimes of the young Lorenzo, with his fiery hair and yellow, piercing eyes. Watching me.
I would always wake with a start, panting and sweaty. Fear would be coursing through my veins at lightning speed. "It was just a dream…" I would try reassuring myself and look out the window, convinced it had all happened. That I had really ran through those mansion walls.
At times I wondered if it had happened at all. That what everyone was telling me was true. "Maybe…I am crazy." I would mutter to myself.
I stared at the ceiling in my room. The air was stuffy and suffocating, I felt like I couldn't breathe in here. Hewie lay beside me, his head resting on the mattress of the bed. My fingers brushed through his fur in search of comfort, and I suddenly felt like crying into his furry mane. It felt like he was my only friend in the whole world. Wasn't Hewie proof enough? He was the only thing that convinced me that what had happened was real. Of course it did. Anger and sadness rushed through me. It wasn't the first time I had regretted telling everyone the truth. I should've known no one was going to believe me; how crazy I was going to sound. I guess I just thought my friends and family would've had more faith in me. I may have not been in a mental hospital, but I certainly felt like I was in one.
I grimaced and hugged my legs to my chest. Wasn't this what I had wanted?