"You've got to be kidding me!" I yelled at no one in particular as I navigated through bodies, stalls, carts that held strange liquids, you named it. "Just my ass-end of luck!"
My luck was on the same level as being born the ass-end of a worm.
The growling never ceased behind me. In fact, the longer I ran, the louder and more aggravated it sounded.
I could not fathom what it even wanted with me. Of all the times I'd run into one of those doggy creepsters in my own world, it had always ignored me. Continued its business of hunting and eating spirits of deceased humans that sometimes littered the streets on random, inconsistent nights.
They were bones, after all. The spirits I meant. They weren't the typical spirits you see in movies or read in books where they still had the general shape and look of their former human bodies. They were just walking, sometimes floating bones with weird energy surrounding them. Floating about, doing nothing creepy like haunting the living or spreading diseases and would only occasionally run into each other on accident.
So, the Doberman, bone-faced dogs hunted them down and devoured the bones. Like I was sure most dogs would do, regardless. And the spirits let them do it. Not once moaning or acting distressed in any way as they were munched and nibbled on . . .
And torn apart.
But one of those damned ass-munching dogs was after me!
Maybe it thought the horns on my head were bones for it to eat!?
Whatever the case, I wasn't going to stick around and find out. One was after me, I didn't need to know the details on why. All that mattered was getting the hell away from it!
Maybe that boar-thing had something to do with it.
A freaking pig bossing around a dog? Reminded me of a book I was forced to stumble through at my current foster home, for whatever reason.
All this dog needed was a brass-studded collar to complete the look.
Then again, maybe this dog was following orders from another source. A source with porcupine quills for hair . . .
I really hoped it wasn't the latter.
Taking the corner at Wilson's antique store and Joe's barber shop, I raced down the roadway while haphazardly bypassing bodies and stalls of food and trinkets along the way. With my yellow energy pumping through my legs, everything around me was one big blur. Fatigue wasn't an issue for me. At least, not in the physical sense. Running for a long period of time never bothered me.
However, running away from something was an entirely different matter.
Jumping over a group of people huddled around colorful powders laid out over a burgundy blanket, I kept running and ignored the wide-eyed stares from the colorful people who looked like they were trading dyed cocaine. I had to keep running, keep moving, too afraid to look back and see the menacing green eyes of the spirit eating dog right on my tail.
It wasn't until I got to the end of the street that the unexpected happened.
Some ass-for-brains tripped me.
The last thing I saw before I felt a tug near my ankle and then the concrete street heading straight for my face the next second, was a really pale white face with whiskers and eyes completely encompassed in blue.
Before my hands could stop my fall, I was jerked by the shoulder and lurched forward where I landed heavily on my face and stomach. Feeling sudden pain radiating from my shoulder, I cried out and clawed at the ground to get back up, but the weight on my back and the growling in my ear had my heart racing in a panic that I had never experienced before.
I'd gone through a lot of shit in the past short years, seeing things that shouldn't be there and learning that no one would believe me when I freaked out over them, but this was on an entirely different level. This was the first time, ever, where I felt full-blown terror.
And it would be something that I'd hoped I would never have the pleasure of ever feeling again if I could just find a way out of this terrifying situation with everything intact, including my sanity.
When the jaw on my shoulder tightened and twisted, sinking the teeth through my jacket and into my skin, I began to scream. Loudly.
"Get off, get off, GET OFF!" I chanted over and over again as I tried to crawl away from the bone-masked dog, and when that didn't work, tried to push against its mask, finding, in my panic, I couldn't do a whole lot to get it off me.
I was so scared and so frightened that I couldn't think straight. Everything that happened in a span of an hour was too much for my ten-year-old self to take in. To comprehend.
No one was helping me. Everyone stayed a safe distance away, circling around me to watch the spectacle, but made no attempt in helping me.
Was that normal?
Was this reaction what I should expect from strangers?
Why did they only watch?
Was it because I had horns now? Or because I was human?
Tears streamed down my face as I sobbed. Pleaded. Begged.
I hated crying, even more so than puking.
But I was terrified. Frantic. Confused.
I wanted to go home.
I wanted to find that fluffy bastard and kill it.
I wanted to curl up in bed and forget any of this ever happened.
I wanted to live.
I. Want. To. Live.
“Please, please, please let me go! LET ME GO! PLEASE!” I cried, clawing at the boney mask-face, feeling tears and snot running down my face as the fear overtook everything that was me.
Then, more pain blossomed in my left ankle. When I tried to pull my leg up, all I felt was resistance and more pain. Craning my head to look back in the little bit of space I had to move, I saw yet another spirit-eating dog biting at my ankle and pulling at it from behind, not in a to-tear-it-off kind of pull, but pulling in a way to drag me off somewhere.
It was all too much for me to handle.
That was my breaking point. My emotions went haywire. I was almost certain I blacked out from all the strain and anxiety I had to endure, because one moment I was crying hysterically and pleading for it all to stop, and the next, a flash of yellow encompassed everything around me, bringing with it a jolt of numbing pain throughout my entire body.
My superpowers had reacted to my distress, exploding from me without my consent and attacking anything it touched, including myself.
In that short instance, loud whining followed that explosion, and the weight from my back lifted off me.
Despite the explosive episode, my blood was still pumping fast with adrenalized fear. The pain of my energy erupting from my body without my consent was in the back of my mind when I stood up and made a break for it. My energy powers were still thrumming over my skin and using that energy, I jumped up and grab onto a window sill on the nearest building closest to me on the street. I was vaguely aware that this building belonged to Jeff's comic book store as I scaled up the side of the building, centering my powers to my palms and to the soles of my feet, so my grip stayed sure and true. The climbing part came easily to me. I climbed a lot of things after school on my way home or when I wanted to visit the homeless guy under the bridge.
The building had four stories to it. A storefront on the bottom floor, and rented out apartments on the overhead adjacent floors. Before long, I was able to make it to the flat top of the building where I was vaguely aware of the numerous plants that littered the top in decorative pots.
The top where I collapsed.
My knees were the first thing to hit the rooftop before I let out a wheezing and painful breath of air, then my hands followed suit, then my shoulder when the energy that rippled over my skin and helped me get away dissipated and with it complete and utter fatigue took its place.
Pain radiated from every part of my body. And this pain was far worse than the last time my energy levels decided they wanted to take a shit on me when they had first appeared and I hadn't known how to control them back then.
But this pain I have never felt before. I didn't know what to compare it to.
And I was still crying. Balling and snotting and waiting for the pain to finally recede from my limbs enough so I could regain my bearings again.
But my damn reprieve only lasted a minute, because soon enough, I heard two thumps from behind me and growling following soon after.
Like I said before: my luck was on the same level as being born the ass-end of a worm.
I felt it again, that static feeling rolling over my skin. As soon as the first one saw me, it lunged for me, not giving me a moment to catch my breath. Rolling to my right and using the very last ounce of my energy, I pushed my foot into the ground and slid across the rooftop to the other end until my back hit the little ledge that lead down toward the alleyway below.
And that was it. I had nothing left. I didn't even have enough energy to lift my arms if I wanted to.
There was nothing I could do to stop them now. If they so choose to chew my throat out, they could do just that without their prey fighting back.
I was done for.
And it was like they knew this. Both of their eerie green eyes stared at me from across the roof, but they made no attempt to lung at me like before. Ever so slowly, they stalked towards me. Their growling never ceasing, only increasing in volume as they drew nearer, their eyes never moving from their target.
And all I could do was watch them move ever closer, allowing the tears to fall down my cheeks.
I was going to die.
I was going to die and I couldn't even fight back.
And I was going to die alone.
Shouldn't there be a rule that at a certain age, a child should never have to deal with these type of thoughts? Not alone.
But I was alone. Alone to deal with a situation I had no control over and in reach of others who refuse to help. If I had the energy, I would probably be hysterically laughing right now. It was all ironic, really. Fate had a cruel sense of humor.
This was it.
Here I die.
Of course, it ends like this.
But before they even got halfway across the building, Fate decided to shit out a deus ex machina by having something, or more appropriately, someone quite literally fall from the sky and landing between me and the dogs. And when it landed, a flash of blue light encompassed the area, blinding myself and silencing everything around us.
When the light receded and I slowly blinked the stars from my eyes, all that stood on front of me was the back of a man wearing blue-jeans and a light blue button-up shirt. His hand that was originally extended in front of his body fell to his side. He paused for a moment, his head that was covered in short, yet thick white and gray-ish hair swiveled back and forth, probably making sure that the dog creatures were not going to return, wherever they ran off to.
Then he finally turned and I was able to get a good look at his face.
He was an old man.
And I mean old, old. Like great grandpa age. When his back was to me, he didn't look that old. He stood straight, his legs were firm and thick in his Jean's, his arms held lean muscle without any aging spots in sight on his really tanny brown skin, but his face had a short white beard and wrinkles on his face that rivaled those wrinkly chinese shart-pies dogs.
His eyes were a pretty blue, but you really had to stare at him to even notice their color; his thick-ass eyebrows overhung his eyes so much so, they'd cast a deep shadow over his eyes.
And that deep-set glare he was giving me wasn't helping his case.
It took me a moment to realize he looked human. One-hundred-percent human.
When I opened my mouth to ask if he was indeed human, all that came out was a pained and drawn-out groan.
I didn't even have the energy to move my lips.
“You shouldn't try to speak"--the old man began as he made his way over toward me. Even his voice sounded old and raspy, and very, very deep--”you've used up all of your Sol. If you weave anymore, you will most surely die.”
He must think this knowledge was just going to spring out of my ass and enlighten me in whatever shit was spewing out of his mouth? Not going to happen. My shit stays in my ass and only comes out when I want it to. Preferably over a toilet but we can't always be picky. But it always moves South, not North.
When I opened my mouth again to speak, he had finally reached me where I laid near the edge of the building top, and when he saw me trying to speak again, he scowled.
“Do you have a death wish, child? Or are you just that dumb?” He knelt on one knee in front of me, his scowl still ever present. “The only conclusion that comes to mind for such stupidity is a death wish. But the way you acted earlier tells a different story. Who out of their right mind would enter the Veil with their horns visible? You should always hide your horns from this world.” He flicked my horns with his right hand as he scolded me over something I didn't understand.
He reached forward and gripped one of my horns, and with it, a cooling sensation encompassed my forehead and ran down my spine, like a trickle of refreshing water.
Another odd sensation to add to the ever-growing list.
God, I just wanted today to end.
Then, I was able to take in a deep breath, and with that breath, I could feel my body again.
And with that feeling, the pain came back, too. Not as bad as before, granted, but pain nonetheless. Enough so that I regained the feeling in my arms to push his hand away.
“I've given you enough of my own Sol to help you back to the material realm. But you will be bedridden for a week, at best. Who is your teacher and why are you here alone? Are you a runaway?”
"W-what are you talking about? I croaked, probably sounding like that frog creature I had first seen when I got here.
“Your master then? The one who taught you to weave your Sol?”
"Master? Soul? I don't know what the hell you're talkin' about!" My irritation was palpable in my voice, but then I remembered how he had saved me. If it wasn't for him, I could possibly be dead right about now. “Um,” I began again, lifting my body up so I was now sitting on my bottom instead of laying against the small ledge of the rooftop. “T-thank you. For saving me . . . And all that.”
Saying thank you was hard.
But damn it, I wanted to cry again.
Truthfully, I was relieved beyond belief. So relieved, and so tired.
I simply did not have it in me to show any gratitude. But I was grateful. Too bad I didn' know how to show it without feeling like a fish out of water.
The old man didn't reply right away. His eyes roamed over my face like he was looking for something like apple sauce or something, and I couldn't help but look away from embarrassment. What if I did have applesauce on my face? Usually, I wouldn't care, but this old fart was making me care at that moment.
“I see,” was his simple answer to whatever conclusion he had come to, “and you're welcome.”
He reached out again and placed his palm on my shoulder. When he gripped it tightly, I couldn't help but tense up.
“What is your name?”
His eyes did not leave mine when he waited for my reply, and still feeling gratitude for being saved from a more-than-likely terrible death, I answered him truthfully without any forethought, “Veda. Veda Yong.”
And then he pushed me over the edge, and for the second time that day, I found myself falling.