A/N: I'm really sorry about taking forever to update this, I feel really bad; my schedule has just been uber crazy lately with finals and all coming up. I just really want to thank everyone who has been following this story, you guys rock! I've never had this many reviews, likes, or favorites! I hope you all enjoy this chapter as well.
Chapter Four: Red
It was Tuesday afternoon and there was a slight breeze that was just strong enough to keep messing up my hair no matter how many times I brushed it out of my face. I was sitting cross-legged on the grassy lawn in Hyde Park, just a little south of the city. Hyde Park was one of the bigger parks in Starling, with several large lawns, various pathways, forested areas, and even a few play structures where children were running around and having fun. I was seated away from most of the commotion in an attempt to concentrate on my work.
A crackling sounded as I started to draw a simple arch on the paper. Oh, you gotta be kidding me. I raised the thin, uncompressed charcoal vine up so that it was eye-level and narrowed my eyes in frustration; there, right in the middle was a crack, splitting the blackened stick into two pieces, the two halves only barely hanging together. Well, that's useless now.
I let out a groan and threw the now unusable piece of charcoal vine onto the ground, where a few other broken pieces were starting to pile up. Out of all the mediums I could have used, I decided to go with charcoal – I hatedcharcoal! I looked down at the palm of my left hand; a black soot-like substance covered most of the skin and filled all the small lines and crevices. The outer edge of my hand was especially smeared with the dark substance from when it brushed over or rested accidentally on the paper, smudging both my skin and the drawing. But hey, I wanted a challenge and so I got one.
So far, a rough outline of the seaside cliff was sketched out on a thick piece of paper. The reason I chose Hyde Park out of all the others in the city was that it had the most spectacular view; laying right on the city's edge, half of the park went right up to the cliff side, where people could walk by and stare down into the crystalline blue ocean below; in the far off distance, some small islands were just barely visible to the eye. It was a good place for artistic prompts and what have you.
A month had passed since my move to Starling, and I would have to say that I adjusted quite well. Laurel and I had our daily routine down to the point where we didn't ever have to worry about getting in each other's way: I woke up around four in the morning and watched TV quietly till Laurel got up around six; we made our own breakfasts but ate together and talked about whatever, then Laurel would go off to work until around seven-ish, and I would sit around the apartment contemplating life, the universe, and everything else that came into my mind until I got some kind of motivation to do something.
So today, I thought, hey, why not go to the park?
As I continued my drawing after pulling out a new charcoal vine from my case, I began to wonder if anyone would actually buy my drawing if I decided to sell it. Was I actually good enough to put my pieces up for sale? Would people really look at them and think, 'I wouldn't mind having that in my living room.'? Or would all the effort that would be put into creating a business be for nothing and all my art be just added to the bottomless pit of people's failed attempts at becoming an artist? The one thing I've noticed a lot, which I really hate, is that usually to become famous in something, you have to already have your name out there somehow. And let's face it, I was a nobody…
"Hey, lady, watch out!" screamed a boyish voice out of nowhere.
I dropped my sketchbook and turned my head just in time to see a neon yellow disk come flying at my face and hit the bridge of my nose straight on. Out of shock, I fell onto my back and immediately clutched my nose.
"Oh shit!" cried a different voice, definitely an older male, "I am so sorry-Roy! What did I tell you about watching where you throw that thing?-Uh, let me help you up!" A pair of hands gripped onto me and helped me lean forward till I was sitting upright again. I winced and squeezed my eyes shut as I suddenly felt lightheaded.
I opened my eyes and was looking at the face of a middle-aged man with bright, orange hair and blue eyes that were filled with concern. "I am so sorry. My nephew, he's only six and has a hard time lis- oh, you're bleeding! Uh, I think I have a tissue or something…"
"It's alright," I said in a nasally voice as I pinched my nose. "It's just a bloody nose, nothing I can't handle." I pulled my hand away from my face and saw that my hand was covered in blood. The charcoal that was on it previously was now mixed with the red creating a dark color. "Uh, I actually might take you up on that tissue offer," I said and the man handed me a white Kleenex that he pulled out of his pocket.
As I tried not to focus on the gross feeling of blood gushing down my face, I saw a small boy come walking up to me and the man looking nervous with his hands held behind his back. The boy looked exactly like the man, with the same blue eyes and fiery red hair; whenever I tried to make eye contact with him, he would quickly divert his gaze to the ground.
"There you are!" said the man, whom I still didn't know the name of, when he too spotted the boy awkwardly standing beside him. "Tell this woman that you're sorry."
The boy, Roy I think was his name, looked up at me for a millisecond and mumbled out as quickly as he could, "Sorry-for-hitting-you-in-the-face-with-my-Frisbee."
The man huffed and rolled his eyes, seeing that that apology would be the best he would get out of the kid. He turned to me with a wary smile. "My name's Jim, by the way."
We both stood up on the lawn and I pulled the tissue away from my nose to see that most of the bleeding had stopped. "I'm Allison. And don't worry about this, I'm perfectly okay. Besides, kids are kids," I said with a small smile.
A look of relief spread across Jim's face. "Thanks." He then looked down at the ground for a moment and frowned. "Your artwork." I too looked down at the spot where I dropped my stuff and saw that drops of blood had splattered onto the paper, ruining the drawing I had started. Well, I wasn't too happy with how that thing was going anyway; this could just give me an excuse to start over.
Jim bent down and picked up the sketchbook to examine it. "Can I?" he asked.
I shrugged and nodded my head. "Go right ahead." I dabbed my finger against my nose and saw that the blood had stopped flowing, which was a relief. I recalled a distant memory of the last time I had a bloody nose; I was about eight years old and thought I was going to die.
An awkward moment passed as silence fell between the three of us as Jim flipped through my art book. I looked at Roy, who was pouting, for a moment. When he caught me looking at him, he stuck out his tongue; and so I, being the mature adult I was, returned the childish action. Roy frowned and turned his head away, pretending to be interested in his toy all of a sudden. I would have then played with something too, but my sketchbook was my toy and it was currently being looked through, so I had to try and busy myself by counting trees.
"Wow," Jim finally said after a few minutes. He closed my book and handed it back to me. "Have you shown these to other people or ever thought about having an open gallery?"
I gave a small laugh and said, "Thanks. In truth, you're the first real person who's seen these. And I think an art gallery is way out of the picture for me, or at least for now. I'm nowhere near good enough."
"Nonsense!" Jim scoffed, waving his hand. "Sure I'm no art critic, but that's some impressive stuff. Maybe it's a little rough in some places, but I'm sure you could become great! Besides, if the rich folk hear about a new artist having a gallery, you'll have viewers without a doubt; an art gallery is like caviar to the rich, they just can't resist. You know what? I actually may know someone who could hook you up with something."
"Really?" I said in disbelief. I think I was still in partial shock that this complete and total stranger actually liked my work.
Jim nodded his head and then began to pat the pockets of his coat. "Uh, I don't have a pen on me and because I don't want to make you feel pressured into doing anything, why don't you take my card and call me if you ever want that contact number."
"Wow, that'd be great! Thanks so much."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, rectangular piece of paper. "Of course, it's the least I can do after my nephew nearly broke your nose. Here."
I took the card and looked at it. On the front it said CADMUS- Genetic Engineering. "Cadmus? Is that somewhere in the city?" I asked.
"Yeah, it's a lab facility just north of the Glades. I work as the chief of security there. It's nothing too fancy, but hey, it pays the bills," he replied. Taking a quick glance down at his wristwatch, Jim then said, "Well, we should get going now; it was nice meeting you."
"Yeah, and I'll make sure to give you a call sometime about that number. Bye Roy," I tried being nice to the kid one last time.
"Yeah, whatever," was his response, the little twerp.
Jim placed his hand on Roy's shoulder and they turned to begin walking away. I waited for a few moments to pass before sitting back down on the grass and collecting my things. I had had enough of the outdoors for one day; it was time to get some food and head home.
After I finished eating dinner at my new favorite café on Kent Street, the sky was dark and the full moon was high in the sky. Laurel had told me that she was going out with someone that night – though she refused to tell me who – and so she most likely wasn't going to get back to the apartment until much later tonight, meaning there was no rush for me to return home either. So as I began walking down the street, I looked around for other routes I could take to get home that were different from my normal one.
Eventually, I made my way to the wharfs, which seemed completely abandoned. There was a clear pathway that went along the water's edge. On the other side of the pathway, there were large warehouses. I didn't see any signs or fences to keep me out, so I assumed that anybody could walk through. So, with my hands burrowed in my pockets for warmth, I continued on.
When I was about halfway through, something caught my eye. It was laying half in the shadows and half in the light of the moon. From where I was standing, it looked like a giant lump. Curious, I went over to it to see what it was.
"Oh my god."
It wasn't just a lump of something. It was a body. Sprawled out on the ground, a man with Asian features was clearly unconscious. However, the frightening bit was that in the top portion of both of his calves there were two thin arrows sticking out and a small pool of blood surrounded the lower half of his body. I quickly bent down and placed two fingers on the side of his neck where I checked for a pulse. Thank god. He was still alive, just out cold. Quickly I stood up and looked around me. Who had attacked him? And who used bows and arrows?
I decided that the best thing to do would be to call 9-1-1, but the moment I took my cellphone out of my purse, I saw another thing out of the ordinary. A little ways away from the man's hand was a gun. I paused momentarily, truly unsure of what to do. I didn't know what had gone on here and I didn't know what the guy had done to get two arrows to the knee. Wait, what was I talking about? Of course calling 9-1-1 was the right thing to do. It didn't matter if the guy was good or not, he needed help and it wasn't my choice to decide if he got to live or die.
Right as I started dialing the number, I heard a noise and spun on the heels of my feet. Walking out of the shadows was a man; he was Asian as well and had no facial expressions. Maybe he knew the man on the ground.
"I'm calling 9-1-1 right now, do you know this man?" I asked, holding the phone up to my ear.
The man didn't say anything, but kept coming closer and closer. I was starting to get freaked out by the man, and so for every step he took forward, I took one back. This continued for about thirty seconds and then my back hit the side of a warehouse, and still, the man kept coming closer.
"Goodbye," he said in a heavily accented voice. Goodbye? What did he mean by that? Was he leaving? I was about to respond, but the man then reached into his jacket and pulled out a gun, pointing it at me.
"What are you doing? Please don't!" I screamed the moment I saw the gun. What was going on? What did I do wrong? "Please," I begged, "I'll give you my entire backpack, that's everything I have with me, just please don't shoot me!"
My pleading had no effect on him. His face remained cold and blank. I closed my eyes as tears started to trail down my face. My body was shaking and I sobbed silently. I waited for the sound of the trigger pulling and the barrel firing. Just as I thought he was going to shoot, I heard a soft grunt and a thump instead. My eyes hesitantly opened, and I was shocked to see that the man with the gun was now lying on the concrete face-first, an arrow matching the others protruding from his back.
My head snapped upward to look at the top of a warehouse, where I saw a man standing wearing a green costume with a hood covering his face; in his hand was a compound bow and on his back, a quiver filled with arrows. "Get out of here!" he ordered in a deep voice.
I was slightly frozen right then. I wanted to say thank you to him, but I also wanted to run as fast as I could to get the hell away from the place, and I was caught somewhere between the two. Just as I was going to say thank you, gunshots erupted from nowhere, scaring the shit out of me. I got to get out of here! I tried to run forward, but found my jacket to be stuck on the warehouse, caught on a nail. Screw it. I immediately stripped myself of the jacket and ran.
People seemed to come out of nowhere, all wielding guns, and were firing them at the hooded man, who was shooting arrows left and right at them all. I ran and hid behind the closest crate to me, curled up into a ball, and covered my ears with my hands to try and block out the blasting sounds of guns firing. What the hell was going on? I momentarily looked up and saw that there appeared to be a straight path that wasn't filled with danger that would get me away from the wharfs. It was probably safer trying to run than staying put like a sitting duck. As I was about to move forward, I felt something hit me, something hard and extremely painful.
Everything around me seemed to slow down to an excruciating pace. The entire left side of my body seemed to be throbbing and my shoulder felt as though it were on fire. All my senses shut off, except my sight, but even then, everything I saw was through an obscure gaze. I stumbled forward and tried to catch myself on the wooden crate, but I only ended up falling to my knees. I looked down at myself and was astonished by how much blood was soaking my shirt and coating my bare arm in a shimmering scarlet red. A stray bullet must have hit me.
Subconsciously, I knew that there was still a firefight going on with the man in the hood and those men, with me smack dab in the middle, but that seemed to be of little to no concern to me. I tried taking a deep breath but found that to only cause more intense pain. Wincing, I took my right hand and pressed it as hard as I could against the wound. If I could add enough pressure, then there was a chance I could stop the bleeding.
Thump-Thump, Thump-Thump, Thump-Thump.
Who was I kidding? There was no way I would be able to stop the bleeding. Already, I had lost a lot of blood and was surprised I was able to hold myself up in a kneeling position. My pulse radiated through my body, it was consistent, but growing weaker as time passed; and yet, I somehow found the feeling of my heart trying to pump as much blood as it could to the rest of my body…peaceful.
This was it. I was going to die.
"I'm getting you out of here," said a voice. I tried to turn to see who had spoken, but as soon as I did, I lost my balance and fell forward onto the ground. I whimpered out in pain, balling my hands into tight fists and wishing that it would all just end. However, my wish didn't get granted as I felt two arms slide underneath my body and raise me off of the ground. A second later, I could feel wind rush against my face as whoever was carrying me ran.
I opened my eyes that I don't remember shutting and it took me a moment to figure out just who was holding me. Slowly, the blurry image of the man in the hood made its way into my vision. "Y-you," is all I could mutter, which took up a lot more energy than I expected.
Red and blue lights then started to flash in the background and the hooded man's face hardened. The police must have arrived. We came to a halt and I could hear muffled shouting. I don't know what was being said, but my best guess would be that the police weren't talking nicely to the hooded man.
"You sh-should go," I coughed, "thank you." I did my best to smile, but I don't even think my mouth moved.
"You'll be alright; I promise," he breathed, carefully laying my body down on the cool ground. The hooded man then quickly stood up and looked over his shoulder at the approaching police officers before shooting an arrow at a crate which exploded into a grey gas. I could hear the archer's footsteps as he ran away.
And that was all I remembered before everything went black.
A/N: This was a bit of a filler chapter, but I promise you, there will be some actual appearances made by Ollie and the others in the next chapter! I realize that there are a lot of mistakes in this chapter tense wise, and I probably should get a beta. So if any of you are one or know of one who may be interested in beta-ing this story, tell me! Also, Jim and Roy's appearance wasn't random and they will come back later on in the story. (For those of you who don't know, that was Jim and Roy Harper, also known as Guardian and Red Arrow/Arsenal/1st Speedy) Well, I hope you liked it and please, make sure to leave a review! Thanks!