Well, I'm going to take a chance and have my first posted fanfic be an OC one. Hopefully it won't be too bad, and I'll definitely be posting some non-OC stories in the future (you know, once they're out of the revising stage)... I would really appreciate some feedback, be it good or bad!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy! I'll probably be updating weekly, so keep an eye out!

Finally, with extreme reluctance, I must admit I do not own anything except my own creation (here I assume an Oscar-winning pose of dejection). Read on.

CHAPTER ONE

The first thing I knew was the dust. It filled my nose and lungs, prominently tactile on my skin. It was an odd sensation—to be blanketed in it. Soft and stale all at once. I wondered, vaguely, if I would be able to free myself from it. I had no adequate judgment of the depth of the grit; it might be three feet high for all I knew. I dismissed the thought. I had no desire to move.

And yet then, most discreetly, a prickling, tingling stir began to vibrate through my fingers, spreading quickly through my arms and down my spine. I felt my hands grip and un-grip, experimenting stolidly with my surroundings. I became aware that I was in a chair, wooden, from the feel of it, and I was sitting tall and erect. My arms rested stiffly on the armrests in quite an unnatural manner, it was almost as if someone had positioned me with great care.

The buzz made its way down, and I recognized the feel of numerous petticoats scratching against the stockings on my legs. My shoes were tight, uncomfortable, and without heels. I could feel the weight of many, many skirts piled on top of my lap.

The more I observed, the more interested I became. I had yet to open my eyes, so when I could finally identify one appendage from another I decided it was time. With great difficulty, as the film of dust had added weight, my eyes slowly exposed themselves. I blinked.

Wherever I was, it was dark. I could make out the vague outlines of a wooden bench directly across from me, and a shelf above that. I stared. The wall seemed to be made of brick, quite plain. Judging by how close it was, I assumed I was in some sort of closet. I pondered this. Why did I awake here, covered in dust? More information was needed. I decided to turn my head.

The result was a loud CRACK! I froze in mild surprise, but as a feeling of unimaginable relief flooded through my neck I turned it again. Several loud and alarming cracks, snaps, and pops later, I had managed to get to my feet. My body was almost pulsing with relief; I had been so stiff for so long that the movement was glorious. Not only that, but I had located a door, a way out, and I was quite ready to depart.

I took a step towards the egress.

SNAP!

I had been expecting it, and after the moment of tightness had passed I prepared to progress again. However, I found myself rooted to the spot. I had detected a voice.

"Oi—did you 'ear that?"

It had come from outside the door.

"'Ear what, Ted?"

"Sounded like a shooter almost… quick, put out the light."

"Naw, Ted, I've on'y got me one more match."

"'Least be quiet then..."

I heard the man who was not Ted sigh. Rooted to the spot, I noticed a flicker of golden light teasing at the crack under the door. Footsteps.

"Listen, Ted, this 'ear's the Mandalay Manor. Ain't no one's lived innit for years. There ain't no one here, man up."

"I'm here," I heard myself whisper. My eyes were wide as I examined the crack beneath the door, now bursting with golden rays. They were just outside the door…

Apparently offended as his manliness was questioned, the man named Ted had stopped whispering.

"Righ', well let's just get the bounty and go."

The two men's blundering footfalls faded, slightly muffled by the dust that seemed to be covering everything. Mechanically, I straightened.

"Bounty?"

I wondered what could be in such a place as this. They had mentioned it was a manor.

Slowly, methodically, I came to a conclusion. These men were stealing. Stealing is not to be tolerated. I needed to go stop them. My head buzzed with thought as my mouth breathed the words:

"I will wait."

In silence, I listened for the men to pass again. The minutes ticked by, and I stood alone except for the dust. Church bells rang in the distance. It had been almost an hour.

Trump… trump, trump…bada-flump!

The muted bumps came from below. Gears turned and I decided they were already downstairs, having gone down another way. Perfunctorily, I reached for a knob. To my disappointment, there wasn't one.

"Load 'em up!"

The voice was muffled, but I knew they were preparing to leave. With a spark of irritation, I touched my fist to the door and gave a push. To my contentment, the door came crashing to the floor. The noise had brought the proceedings downstairs to a halt. I could almost feel the thieves' frantic hearts beating.

"Lovely."

As silently as possible with my newly-operating joints, I proceeded down the hall and glided down the stairs. There they were, stock still, focusing in the complete opposite direction. I took that opportunity of being unseen to position myself authoritively on top of the banister. I clasped my hands behind my back and kept my legs tight together, preparing to speak.

"Why are you pilfering?" my voice came out softer and more monotonous than I expected, but I continued on, "That's quite rude to pilfer from one's house. Much worse, I should think, than from a shop."

The words, as I say, were soft, but the effect was instantaneous. Before I could realize what was really happening, an alarming series of cracks erupted as the men turned, pistols loaded.

"So… so you're shooting."

The words had barely slipped from my mouth when the pellets hit, showering over my torso and into my skirts. I felt heavy thuds and mild shock. I had not expected this. I was going to die.

The hits knocked me from the banister and I crashed to the ground. The bangs and cracks and puffs of smoke had not relinquished, the men must be truly surprised to still be attacking me. I quietly waited for them to leave, my ears ringing. After a few moments, I realized the fire had ceased, as no more bullets were pelting my skin with those same heavy thuds. It was too dark to see. They had left.

The smoke was suffocating. Not wanting to die feeling the same dust I had just awoken in, I managed to stand and quietly teeter my way to where I had spotted an exit. I found the handsome door, grasped the handle, and tugged.

Out into the night. Across the lawn. Through a building. Teeter. Teeter. Teeter. Though my injuries, I suspected, were extreme, I eventually found myself on wet cobblestone in a claustrophobic alley. The fact that I had travelled so far was mildly unsettling.

"Am… am I injured badly…?"

I could not bring myself to look at the wounds. Instead, my eyes intently gazed at the cobble below.

"This… this looks rather suitable. I rather think… I'd like to die… here."

With those words, I carefully laid myself down. Clasping my hands over my chest and taking one last empty gaze at the empty sky, I closed my eyes.

I waited.