Upon seeing me approach, Misty jumps off the bench where she had previously been perched. Her long brown hair sways with a rapid motion and her face lights up with a cheerful smile. Her light brown eyes sparkle with excitement. Her small and delicate facial features stand out, making her look childlike.
“Finally!” she screeches, linking her arm through mine and guiding us through the door and into the throng of shoppers. The mall is a blur of people all speaking at once, their words mingling together. People’s coats rustle like autumn leaves, tapping shoes echo on the tiled floor as everyone goes about their daily business.
“Let the shopping begin! Have you got anything in mind? We want something hot for the party.” Misty’s excitement shines through her voice like the sun breaking through the clouds, her words fast, only just recognizable. “I was thinking black hot pants and a red corset, with my black knee-high leather boots.” I grin at her.
“The boots would definitely make you look like a whore.” It was only Misty that could come out with something like that.
The boots fine, the corset and hot pants, a no. I would not be seen dead in that outfit.
I cannot help but laugh, which sets Misty off laughing. She can be a bit ditzy sometimes. She should have been the blond one.
“I was thinking we both should wear a dress, you know, show off our legs.” With hope in her musical voice, Misty grins. She has great legs, long and slender, well-toned. She is like a supermodel. Being the definition of beautiful, she can pull anything off.
Me, on the other hand, I am a few inches smaller, and wearing a dress is something I do only when forced. The idea of showing too much skin makes me feel uncomfortable.
Misty and I are different in every way. Misty is not only beautiful, but she is the life and soul of every party we attend. With her outgoing and bubbly personality, people flock towards her. Me, on the other hand, I am quieter and more reserved.
“If you want to wear a dress, then go for it. Just leave me out of it,” I warn, adding authority to my voice.
An hour later, Misty coaxes me into buying a mint green dress. The shoulders and chest area have a see-through mesh that joins onto the thick fabric that hugs my breasts and hips before flowing out and stopping just before the knees. When I twirl in the dress the fabric dances in the air like waves. She then picks out a pair of white-heeled sandals and a white matching bag to finish off the look. I love the dress, as it makes me feel beautiful, but wearing it in public is a different matter.
Misty picks out a ruby red bodycon dress that hugs her in all the right places. She picks up black sandals with a large heel and a matching bag.
How she is going to walk in those heels is anyone’s guess.
The outfit makes her look older, in a sophisticated way.
“We are both going to look so hot Saturday night,” she gushes, bouncing on her heels.
I don’t want to look hot, more like invisible.
“I just have to make a quick stop before we head home.” Misty points in the direction of a shop that personalizes and engraves items.
“Okay, I just need to pick up a book from the bookstore, so I’ll meet you at the bus station in about fifteen,” I suggest, killing two birds with one stone.
The smell of old, musty books fills my lungs as I step over the threshold. I want to buy a book on the meanings of dreams to try to get some insight into why I keep having these recurring nightmares.
The store is eerily quiet, not a person in sight. The quietness is unsettling after the thunderous noise of shoppers, setting my nerves on edge. Quickly, I find the section I am looking for and begin scanning the shelves.
“Hidden Meaning of Dreams” stands out. Grabbing the book, I spin around, wanting to get out as fast as possible. My nerves are uncontrollable, tingling with anticipation, causing fear to rise from its hidden deaths. Unease creeps through my pores. The reason why is unclear. The hairs on the back of my neck tingle in anticipation, the strange feeling you get when someone is watching you.
“Argh!” I find myself face-to-face with a pale, sickly looking old man, his face riddled with wrinkles like dried up fruit. His faded green eyes bore into mine. I place a hand over my heart, prompting the crazy rhythm to regulate.
“Can I help you?” he asks. His voice is sharp and clear, not what I am expecting from someone his age.
Sidestepping, I tell the old man - who is standing way too close, “No thank you, I found what I was looking for.”
I head towards the counter. The man slowly approaches; his body haggard and hunched, his clothes ill-fitted and hanging off him.
“The mind knows what is coming. It speaks to you through dreams. Heed their warning, young one, or suffer the consequences” the old man says in a daze, the whites of his eyes standing out, his words slow and chilling. I look away to hide my nervousness from him.
Thanking him, I near enough run for the exit, colliding with what feels like a brick wall. My body shoots backwards, hitting the ground hard. Pain shoots through my back like a tidal wave, the air forcefully knocked from my lungs. Painfully, I pull myself to my feet, rubbing my sore hands on my jeans.
A large man with broad shoulders and a body like a giant stand sneering down at me. Hollow eyes that seem to sink into his face look mean and calculating. They bore through me like laser beams locking onto their target. The smell of garbage and death insults my nostrils, making my eyes water and my stomach churn.
His clothes are dirty and wrinkled, like they belong on a wasteland site. He wears the appearance of a biker, rough and ready for a fight. His appearance alone sets off warning bells in my head.
“What have we here?” he hisses like a snake. My knees tremble slightly at the sound of his voice.
Another man joins him at his side. He is just as bad as the first, only smaller. His pinched face, dull brown hair and beady eyes, remind me of a little field mouse.
Panic sets in. My mouth becomes dry, my body immobile. My heart jumps into my throat, causing my stomach to do somersaults. The way they are looking at me tells me I am in trouble. Their body language suggests they are looking for a fight.
“What do you want?” Stuttering, my words are ignored.
The first man, who I have decided to call Hulk, grabs me by the scruff of the hair, tilting my head back. He sniffs loudly, grunting like a pig.
“You smell sweet, intoxicating. A little taste won’t hurt,” he purrs in my ear.
The smell of horse manure makes me gag. The taste of vomit enters my mouth. I grit my teeth against the feeling of spewing. My body becomes like a lead weight as fear takes over.
His iron grip holds firm as I begin to squirm and struggle. The book lays heavy in my hands. With as much force as physically possible, I begin to lift the book, hitting him between the eyes. The impact vibrates through my hands. The force, or maybe shock, loosens his grip, allowing me to wriggle free, losing a large chuck of my hair in the process. My scalp burns and stings like it has encounter boiling water.
Darting for the door, the smaller man catches my wrist, yanking me towards him hard, and the imprints of his fingers, linger with a dull ache. I crash into his chest, causing pain to run down my cheek and my neck to fling back.
His eyes turn a startling red, glowing and mocking me. My nightmares have become reality.
I am officially crazy.
My head begins to spin as darkness hovers over me, threatening to pull me in.
Shoppers saunter by, not a care in the world. No one notices what is taking place, looking straight through me like I’m invisible. Trying to gain their attention, an ear splitting-scream leaves my mouth. I thrash and claw at my opponent to no avail.
“You can’t fight us, little one,” he spits, snapping me out of my daze. Adrenaline courses through my veins as fire burns within me. The need to fight and stay alive takes over. Picking my knee up, I thrust it between his legs.
Dropping to his knees, freeing me in the process, I deliver a kick to his head with a deafening thud.
Hulk darts for me. I move to the side, but I am too late. His fist crashes into my face, a sickening crack sounding in my ears. The force sends me reeling backwards, causing me to fall with a thud. My head hits the floor. Agonizing pain shoots through my nose as blood bursts forward. A dull ache in my head makes things look fuzzy, everything spins.
Before I have time to get up, he picks me up like a rag doll and launches me into the air. I sail at a rapid speed before hitting the glass panels. The sound of glass breaking, and cracking fills the shop. Agony tears through my body as glass rains down on me.
Small, sharp, and jagged pieces embed into my forearms as I protect my face, bringing forth needle-like stabbing pains in the inflicted areas.
The scar on my right palm starts to tingle and vibrate, causing goose bumps to rise on my body. Shivers run down my spine, a feeling out of place for what is occurring.
Firm hands pull me to my feet, my legs weak and trembling, barely holding me up. With one fluid motion, my head whips to the side as cold steel hands graze down my neck. My energy slowly dwindles.
“I am going to enjoy this,” he gloats, his slimy tongue trailing along my cheek to my neck, making me gag, leaving a wet trail like a snail.
“Is this a private party? If so, I am assuming my invitation got lost in the post?” A masculine voice, calm and collected, steels his attention. I recognize the voice but cannot place it. Something buried within me stirs.
“Chris, haven’t you got innocents to save or something?” Hulk’s words are laced with venom. Releasing his grip on me allows me to look at the familiar voice.
Standing just a few feet away, I cannot recall the man. I would not have forgotten someone like him. Yet he seems familiar.
Leaning on the doorframe, his arms folded over his chest, his foot tapping in what looks like boredom, his baby blue eyes radiate anger, shooting daggers at my attackers.
He is drop dead gorgeous, the most handsome man I have ever seen. With almost black hair, cut into a military haircut, sharp and chiselled facial features with a well-defined jaw, and shoulders that are broad and masculine, like someone who looks after their body.
“And miss all the fun?” he says, pushing away from the doorframe whilst staring my attackers down.
“Chris, this is not your concern,” the little man hisses. Seeing my chance while they are distracted, I edge away from them a little at a time. When I am a few feet away, I run as fast as my injured body will allow.
Within the blink of an eye, the man they call Chris pulls me towards him before pushing me behind him as the other two men shoot forward.
My breathing becomes erratic and irregular, forcing me to take deep gulps of air.
The ground begins to move underneath me. Piercing pains attack my skull, forcing me to my knees. Everything starts to spin. Darkness creeps forward, pulling me under until everything turns to black.