From The Shadows

Nearly fifteen minutes later and Eleanor is almost home. She can see her apartment building ahead, but the front door will not be how she gets in. Sadly, the front entrance has been out of order for the last couple days because of some issue with vandalism and the door having been wrenched off its hinges. Eleanor isn’t sure why a new door wasn’t just installed but apparently whatever was done meant that it wasn’t that simple and may take a couple weeks to fully sort. That is why the front entrance is covered with a thick sheet of metal that has been riveted to the surrounding brick walls. Due to that Eleanor, and any other residents for that matter, has to use the rear door. Really the rear door is a fire exit but it’s the only way for her to get to her apartment. To be frank it’s inconvenient, especially when she brings groceries back and has to carry them around, but she has little other choice as her apartment building doesn’t have an external fire escape, unlike the one she’d sheltered under while it was raining.

Not for the first time since departing, Eleanor wonders what that guy in the caps problem was. She wasn’t causing any harm. She was just seeking shelter. Still, she did the right thing, in her eyes, and got out of there because there was definitely something off about him. To start with he was evasive, hostile, rude and for no reason it seems other than he, apparently, didn’t like Eleanor standing under the fire escape of a building to stay out of the rain. Yet, it was like he was completely unaware that it had been raining and thought she was lying. He might not have been wet but she clearly was, and still is. With the chill of the evening air, alongside the frequent gusts, it has been impossible for her clothes to dry off in any way that could be called meaningful. Almost home though, so what does it matter?

Eleanor rounds one corner and then a second that takes her round the back of her apartment building and to the rear courtyard. Why it’s here Eleanor has never been able to work out. No one uses it. It’s just an empty space maybe twenty metres across, the same width as her apartment building, and a poultry, by comparison, four metres long, or is that deep, she isn’t sure.

Had it been larger the waitress would have wondered if before the other buildings around it were built whether it had been resident parking. Clearly it isn’t and only seems to serve as a canvas for street artists to adorn with whatever they fancy. She wouldn’t say most of the ‘art’ is anything to write home about. At least not when it mainly seems to consist of some kids street name scrawled in almost illegible writing over an even older and yet almost identical tag that was put there some years before.

Because of the courtyards limited use as a patch for kids to tag alongside its principle purpose as a place to store bins, the illumination is scant and predominantly provided by flickering strip bulbs that emit a pitiful yellow glow shaped like a cone that creates an effect similar to spotlights used in stage productions. The only difference is that there is not an ounce of glamour in this space. It always stinks of rotting food waste due to the city council workers rarely ever coming back here, as often as they’re supposed to, to collect and dispose of the trash. It makes Eleanor wonder why she even bothers to pay her taxes to the local authority if they can’t do something as simple as collect refuse regularly. Yet, if she did stop paying, or refuse, they would land her with an astronomical charge several times her yearly total and for no other reason than because it is within their rights too.

At least in this neighbourhood her refuse is collected sometimes, if not as often as it should be. Other neighbourhoods are not so lucky and have to contend with swarms of rats all over the sidewalk every time they step out the adjacent building because of the trash piled up.

The courtyard is empty and Eleanor has to admit that she’s relieved about that. As yet the waitress has yet to come across anyone loitering, or passing through, here while she is forced to use it to get home. She hopes that it stays that way and that she never does. The sort of people that might be lingering here worries her. She doubts, seriously, they would be residents. If they were then she would have seen them already. Plus, only about half her building is occupied. City prices are high, jobs vacancies are few and losing your occupation is pretty common. As a result there is a high turnover of occupants for these apartments, all apartments for that matter. Plus, most of them are rentals. Eleanor’s isn’t. She still doesn’t understand how she managed to get so lucky on that, but was, and is, beyond thrilled that she did. Especially when landlords for the rental apartments tend to charge whatever they like whenever they like, from one month to the next. It’s horrifying and cruel, but it does explain why landlords, there are four different ones for the rentals in her building alone, drive around in big expensive cars that seem to change and be replaced on an almost quarterly basis.

However, as Eleanor reaches a little over the half way mark across the courtyard there is a clattering sound. For the third time tonight she jumps. Not quite out of her skin like she did when that odd man spoke to her in the alley but still.

Her fright sees the waitress spin around expecting to see some rats scurrying away in the darkness now that a human is present. Why rats only seem to make a noise when people appear and grow near Eleanor will never understand. She can only surmise that it might that they are not paying attention and are unaware of a person’s presence only to suddenly realise, scare themselves, much like she has just been, and then clatter about as they rush off seeking a place to hide until the coast is clear and they can return to their rummaging.

Unfortunately, Eleanor is not met with scurrying rats but the sudden appearance of a figure who steps out of the shadows. Eleanor freezes on the spot unsure what to do, who this person is or why they were hiding in the shadows. Such things are not normal she thinks. Then three more figures appear and Eleanor’s blood runs cold as a result.

The four figures all dressed in black have their faces obscured behind balaclavas and the masks, like hers, that cover the lower half of their faces. Immediately, Eleanor notes they are all wearing gloves and from the size and shapes of the four figures her guess is that they are all male. She swallows hard and begins to edge back away from them, though they make no attempt to pursue. Perhaps they mean to let her go. Perhaps she startled them as much as they did her. She can only hope that is all this is as she continues to take one backward step after another until hands wrap around the tops of her arms, tightly. Eleanor shrieks. Before she can do anything else she is flung around by whomever it is that grabbed her arms from behind. Her breathing immediately turns heavy and her heart explodes into a gallop, the world around her a blur of motion. Then the motion stops, suddenly, though her eyes keep going which makes the waitress feel particularly dizzy.

A face, black and masked, appears not long after in her vision. The person’s eyes are brown, dark, almost to the point of appearing black in the limited light of the yellow glow of the strips. It’s one of the few tubes not suffering from an irregular flickering strobe effect.

Eleanor feels terrified in the moments before, she assumes the face before her, utters, “Well, well, well we have found a pretty one tonight boys.”

There is a round of cackling, mocking laughter that assures Eleanor she has fallen into some sort of web, as if this was planned. And it certainly was planned, not to catch Eleanor, but definitely to catch someone. Eleanor curses her bad luck silently as she thrashes about in hopes of breaking the grip on her arms. She can’t and all that the waitress actually succeeds in doing is having the grip on her tightened. It’s as if whoever has hold of her is making the point that her attempts are futile. Another round of low cackling then fills the air. Definitely all men, Eleanor decides due to all the laughs being bassy rumbles.

“Get off me, or I’ll scream!” Eleanor promises without understanding why it is that she has just told these men what she plans to do. The only thing she can do in the situation she’s in. It’s stupid, idiotic and is answered seconds later when the same voice chuckles, “No you won’t. Not with this.”

As if by magic the mask wearing man in her face produces a gag from seemingly out of thin air. Eleanor would be impressed if the situation was completely different, but they aren’t which is why she thrashes her head back and forth. Her hope is that the thrashing will be enough to prevent the man from securing the gag that’ll be effective enough, she is sure, to keep her quiet. Yet, the gag is not what she fears most. No, what she fears most is what will come after the gag is in place. It seems almost assured that, with the presence of the gag, they plan, at the very least, to rape her. Tears well up in her eyes, but she doesn’t care if they are a result of what she is sure will happen next or because of the rapid side to side thrashing of her head. To be honest, the waitress finds it painful and not at all sustainable. It’s why she decides to change tactic and attempt to scream instead.

Sadly, the waitress manages only the very start of cry for help before the gag is violently shoved into her mouth and then her head wrenched forward and down so that she is looking at the floor. Still, Eleanor refuses to accept defeat and continues to thrash but finds her attempts useless due to another man having hold of her head, which he exerts pressure on to keep bowed. His forcefulness is painful and yet still not as bad as the bite of the gag as it is pulled too tight across her cheeks, resulting in a whelp of pain before the voice announces some seconds later that, “And she’s done.”

With that Eleanor’s head is wrenched back up so she is afforded a view of the men who have attacked her, bar the one still clinging painfully to her arms which are now pulled together behind her back so that the elbows of her coat are almost touching. Her shoulders burn agonisingly because of the position, even as she tries to struggle and pull her arms apart, if only a smidge. But she cannot. They are firmly held in place. The men meanwhile snigger at her vain struggles and muffled cries.

“So, you’re probably wondering why you? Well, there is no reason why you. You were just the poor soul that walked in here at the wrong time. And to think we were about to call it quits and walk away. If you’d been thirty seconds later we’d have been gone and you’d be inside. Ah well, that’s how the cookie crumbles, or whatever that saying is.” The brown eyes of the masked man glow with a menace that hadn’t been present previously and that terrifies Eleanor.

“Can we get on with this? I’m bored and want some fun, and she looks fun.” One of the other masked men says sounding hungry and before erupting into a mean cackle.

“Hang on. Hang on. It’s not a free for all. You know that. There’s an order here.” A third member of the masked quintet reminds with a shake of his head and raised, gesticulating, gloved hands.

Eleanor is wide eyed and still struggling, as useless as it might be it’s the only option available to her. It might not have been had she not stated she’d scream. That had given them a warning, perhaps even a reminder that she’d need to be gagged for what was to follow. Her skin crawls, all of it, and all at once. Her only hope now is that one of the masked men gets too close so that she can kick or head butt them. How effective that will be when there are five attackers she can’t be sure but it’s better than doing nothing and just accepting what they have planned for her. She just has to wait for her opening, which she hopes doesn’t take too long or come too late.

Eleanor’s chance comes a couple minutes later after the men have chatted, debated and reminded one another of the proper etiquette. The waitress hasn’t paid an ounce of attention to their droning voices, but had she heard them she would have been dismayed by how they seem to think their behaviour is in any way normal and that there is a proper way of doing what they’re doing. There’s not and its proof they’re all sick in the heads. What she does hear is, “Cut the chatter. It doesn’t matter what you all want cause it’s my go first. I saw her so I get first go.”

Eleanor gulps and snarls in disgust at the same time one of the men, she isn’t sure who is who other than to say that doesn’t think it’s the one with the brown eyes that look almost black, steps forward and produces a knife. Eleanor’s eyes go wider and lock on to the blade before them.

“See, this always works. The pretty ones always worry about the knife and they’ll do anything to avoid it.” The knife wielding masked man cackles as he waves the thin blade back and forth in front of Eleanor’s eyes. As he does so he steps forward so that his body is closer to the woman being held in place, his intent clear.

As soon as he’s finishes stepping forward Eleanor unleashes all the strength she can in a single kick. It fires out at such speed the man doesn’t even see it coming until her leg has crushed his balls up and into his body. Instantly, he lets out a howl of pain and spins away. His hands cradle his balls as he stumbles about cursing and screeching about how Eleanor is a bitch and will pay for what’s she’s done. The waitress ignores the promises of revenge from the man as her eyes burn defiantly for the few seconds before she is slapped, hard, across the face. Her head snaps right and the pain in her cheek and jaw are unlike anything she has ever felt before in her life. She tries to cry out the pain but with the gag in place little more than muffled groans come out. However, she does manage to shed several tears. They trickle down her face in the seconds before she is grabbed, painfully, by the chin and has her head wrenched back to centre to look at the man with almost black brown eyes.

“Do that again and I’ll cut off your toes you little bitch!” His voice is too calm and emotionless for Eleanor’s liking, which sends chills down her back. He sees her fear and erupts into a short chuckle.

“Who’s next?” Are the words that leave his mouth soon after and come as he does a half-circle around the point he’d been stood in previously.

“I…still want my go.” The man Eleanor kicked in the groin says through gritted teeth as he continues to fumble while in pain.

“You will, but we’re not standing round doing nothing to wait for you to recover.” Is the quick reply that comes before one of the masked group declares, “I’ll go. I only want to do one thing…”

“Definitely not you. If you go she’ll be cold before any of us get a chance.” Someone chimes in only for a retort of, “Fuck you!” to be spat angrily in the couple seconds prior to two of the masked men squaring off against one another.

Eleanor sees an opportunity, and having taken the time to assess how far away the man holding her must be. She thinks he’s within her range and so suddenly throws her head forward and then immediately back. At the same time she hears an exclamation of confusion that can only be from behind her and is a clear result of the man having watched her throw her head forward.

But, while still forcing her head back, Eleanor feels panic well up inside her because she thinks that she must have failed seeing as there has been no collision. As soon as the thought crosses the waitresses mind she feels the tip of someone’s nose stab at the back of her head and then shatter. The effects are immediate and Eleanor feels the grip on her arms not only falter but fail. She’s free. She feels elated and attempts to scurry away, but to her shock she finds that her arms won’t move further than a few centimetres from one another. Suddenly, she realises her arms are restrained above her elbows. It’s where her coat is the thickest and due to that she’d been incapable of feeling the restraints.

She’d think her attackers clever if they weren’t hoping to rape, mutilate and perhaps murder her. And not necessarily in that order either.

The waitress is unsteady on her feet as a result of the reverse head butt she has just performed that has left her feeling slightly dizzy. She ignores it, desperate to get away. Sadly, she manages only six steps, the first couple more stumbles, before she feels someone grab her by the hair and haul her body backward. Eleanor attempts to scream, but again with the gag in her mouth little more than a quiet series of groans come out. Then she feels her body against another’s. She gulps, terrified, and hears, “You’re mine now, pretty. No getting away from me.” The voice is creepy but the laugh is far worse and sounds like an off-kilter hyena, except actually insane.

Right after the waitress feels a wet sensation run up the side of her face. It makes her skin crawl but she can guess what it is, a tongue. A sudden urge to vomit washes over her but she can’t. She does however wonder when her hood fell back off her head. Maybe when I attempted to flee, she thinks, or perhaps someone had tried to grab me by it, failed, but pulled it down in the process. It doesn’t matter how it happened, the waitress just wants to be free. That is why she begins to plead pointlessly into the gag.

“No, bring her here. I warned her what would happen. She didn’t listen, so now she’ll pay.” The voice is angry but Eleanor knows who it belongs to, even if she doesn’t have a clue what they look like really.

With the demand made, Eleanor is hauled off her feet and dragged kicking, thrashing and flailing back the way she has come. Sadly, her attempts are still futile. Then she finds herself in front of the man with the eyes so dark they look black. Immediately, he grabs Eleanor’s left leg. She tries to kick at him to stop what he intends but fails. In fact, her attempts only seem to aid the masked man in getting a hold on her foot.

He quickly rips the pump off and then the thin white sock to expose her small feet, the toes of which are curled in.

Eleanor hopes she’s done enough to make it impossible for him to start attacking them, while cold air whisks around making her regret her attempts to flee.

“You don’t want to do that.” A deep slow voice says out of the blue.

The sudden appearance of a new voice, not belonging to the five men that have accosted Eleanor, draws all attention to a point where there appears to be nothing but empty air and shadows.

“Who said that?” Someone exclaims sounding more afraid than they would have liked. However, they get no reply, and so after a long silence, during which the five men exchange looks and shrugs, they ultimately reach the conclusion that what they heard was a trick of the wind. With that conclusion reached the masked attackers turn their focus back on the waitress, Eleanor, who had been filled with hope when she heard the voice. But now that it is gone feels despair. Yet, she could have sworn it was real.

“This little piggy is going to be cut.” The waitress hears the man say following him having been handed a knife by a permanently sniggering member of the group. Eleanor assumes he is the man that she kicked in the bullocks earlier and for no other reason than because he is incessantly sniggering, as if vengeance is about to be fulfilled.

Still, the waitress isn’t inclined to admit defeat and make it easy on these sickos, which is why she keeps kicking and thrashing her legs, her free right leg mainly, attempting to worm her way out of the grip on her left leg and avoid any damage being wrought to her toes.

The thin blade gets within millimetres of Eleanor’s little toe when suddenly someone exclaims, “Who the fuck are you?”

Everyone else turns in response to that sudden exclamation, except Eleanor, and see a towering figure bathed in darkness. It’s as though the figure is made out of darkness as they stand there barely out of the murk.

“Who gives a fuck who he is, just get him!” The man with the brown almost black eyes spits as he gesticulates wildly with the knife in his hands.

In response the three other masked men, one of which has a shattered nose while another has tender balls, pull melee weapons from about their person as they lumber toward the figure. They cackle like a pack of hyenas clearly eager for a good fight, which is something Eleanor would never have been able to give them. To be honest the three masked men don’t think this guy will either, which suits them just find seeing as their idea of a good fight is one in which they have overwhelming odds. They’ll beat this guy to death. That gives this group pleasure. Not as much as playing with someone like the waitress will, but it’s more common for them to corner people like this shadowy figure than it is a lone woman like Eleanor.

“Fuck you!” One of the masked men spits as he swings a baseball bat toward the figure. However, the weapon never hits. It makes little sense as it was perfectly on target. To make things stranger the shape didn’t move. Yet, the masked guy having swung the bat has almost completed two spins before coming to a halt, left wondering what is going on. Confused looks are exchanged between the trio of armed men before the man with the almost black eyes spits, “What are you waiting for a fucking invitation?” His voice is loud and angry but he seems to have forgotten all about Eleanor. She’s relieved, though really isn’t sure, as she can’t properly see, what is going on. However, she hopes whoever this man is can save her. It’s selfish and maybe a tad over optimistic as there is apparently only one of him and in total five of them. But she has to have something to hold onto and distract her from the prospect of being assaulted.

To make sure they get the shadowy figure, whose appearance would make little logical sense to the attackers if they considered it, they all attack at once. It’s a mistake, about the biggest they could have made because the armed thug on the right is quickly grabbed, hauled into the air and then hurled backward like he’s little more than a piece of paper. The man screams and howls as he flies through the air until finally he slams, shoulder first, into a wall. There is a crunch, whether of bone or something else no one can say.

If the other two had been smart and had not attacked at the exact same moment they might have avoided what would come next for them, but alas such is not the case. Instead, the guy directly opposite the shadowy figure is swiftly kicked away, and left to roll backwards head over heel. Meanwhile the last attacker is punched in the jaw. It doesn’t seem that bad until the figure floats right through him. Instantly, the attacker descends into a gibbering mess, unable to comprehend how or what has just happened in the moments before, so instead drops to his knees and begins to mumble nonsense.

“Fuck it, I’m cutting this bitch!” The guy with the almost black eyes suddenly roars. His voice isn’t anywhere near as clear or confident as it had been. In truth it’s quaking and if he was to be honest with himself he doesn’t really understand what he’s just seen happen before his very eyes. He knows there must be a rational explanation for it, but he can’t give one in light of the shadowy figure having literally just stepped through one of their number. He thinks it’s Marv but can’t be sure. Regardless of whoever it is it doesn’t change the fact that they are now spouting nonsense. Though, the man with the almost black eyes is the only other person to have caught the sight, which is probably for the best as the others likely would have ran for their lives right then and there had they seen it.

Now that he’s turned back to Eleanor he grabs her foot again, this time her right one, and is forced to wrench her pump and then sock off to get to her toes. Why he’s making this his goal he cannot really explain. He doesn’t get any further though as the shadowy figure suddenly appears behind him. Eleanor’s eyes go wide as she is forced to stare into an endless black shape. In the light there should be form and features, however there isn’t. The figure is just a mass of darkness.

The man with the almost black eyes turns, having caught the look in the woman’s eyes. Then at the sight he is confronted with takes a full step back as if he plans to run. Whether he does or not will never be known as he gets no further because the arm of the figure suddenly lances through the masked man’s chest and out the back side.

The now impaled masked man looks down. He can’t help it even though he feels no pain. The shock he feels at the act alone is nothing compared to looking at the sight, which now in full view results in his heart coming to a stop. After that his body flops to the floor, while Eleanor is released by the guy who has the creepy voice. Right away he begins to plead and beg for mercy. He doesn’t get any. The figure just leaps toward him. He screams and turns but gets barely a pace before he is torn off his feet and thrown, head first, into the nearest wall. A sickening crunch marks his perhaps too swift death.

Eleanor, now on her knees on the floor, watches as another of the masked men throws himself at the shadowy figure with a machete. The waitress screams into the cloth gag as a warning but only muffled grunts come out. She’d forgotten about the gag and the figure seems unable to get the gist of her noises before the blade slices through them. Not that the blade causes any harm to the figure who shows no inkling of pain or care for the attack rendered unto them in the moments prior to them grabbing the attacker by the shoulder, extending their arm fully and then pulling it the wrong way. There is a gut wrenching snap followed by a loud scream from the attacker, which occurs as the machete drops to the floor only to unleash a series of clattering rings. The figure shivers in response to the quick volley of rough notes as if they grate or interfere with their presence. As quickly as the shudder began it ends.  Following that the masked attacker is kicked hard in the rear, their body thrown forward into one of the dumpsters. Somehow the injured attacker manages to dip his head just enough so that his shoulder slams into the mass of rusting metal. The attacker howls again, though his cry is much shorter and quieter than the first that passed his lips when his arm was broken.

All of a sudden the figure turns toward Eleanor but does nothing. It’s like they are staring at her. It doesn’t last long though as the masked attacker with the baseball bat in hand rejoins the fray. He swings it in a wide arc aiming for the figures head. Out of nowhere the figures arm appears and grabs a hold of the end of the baseball bat, stopping it in its tracks two thirds of the way through its journey. The masked attacker spits, grunts, groans and swears as he tries to break the figures grip. He can’t, and is so busy with his desperate but futile attempts that he doesn’t see the figure pull back their other arm and then launch a wispy fist of black shadows forward until it is too late.

The man’s nose shatters with a loud crack under the force of the strike. But that is the least of his worries as he is thrown backward into a wall which actually caves slightly creating a vertical crater. This sudden end to the man’s velocity crushes the rear of his skull flat. Yet, he doesn’t die immediately and manages more than a dozen seconds of whimpers, during which he attempts to consider what is wrong only to realise he can’t. Following that he drifts off never to move or speak ever again.

With the threats seemingly dealt with the figure drops to down to one knee. At first Eleanor thinks he plans to cut her lose but he does no such thing. She considers why but hasn’t a clue. Suddenly one of the masked thugs appears with a length of sheared pipe in one hand, their only good hand. In that moment Eleanor understands that the figure was waiting. Yet, why he is doing nothing as the man sail through the air with the pipe held high above his head, ready to bring it down on the figure? She can’t comprehend, though the answer comes swiftly when all of a sudden the figure disappears entirely.

The end of the sheared pipe slams noisily into the paving blocks of the courtyard with the attacker blinking his blue eyes in disbelief. The waitress watching sees the man shift his gaze up from where the figure had been seconds ago and to her face. Her eyes are focused on something but that something is not the masked man with the length of pipe. It’s something else. He reads the look in her eyes, of confusion, and the way she blinks perfectly, which is why he spins on his heels and finds the shadowy figure stood before him. He gulps, Eleanor hears it, and then before he has the chance to react the figure tears the length of pipe from the man’s grip and jabs the pointed rusting end upward through the underside of his jaw until a decent chunk of it is visible, and slick with thick blood, out the top of his skull.

Eleanor feels her heart rate skip, her head go light and sickness wash over her. Somehow, she manages to keep herself in the moment and watch as the shadowy figure changes from the vague shape of a person into a dapper looking man with slick backed dark blond hair, a cleanly shaven face, green eyes and an immaculate grey suit.

Eleanor doesn’t understand what is going on or how any of this is possible. It seems like a dream yet she knows for a fact that it isn’t. The man drops into squat, having circled behind her and releases the gag. Right away Eleanor spits out the knotted ball of fabric in her mouth. The taste throughout has been fowl, but at least she should be able to flex her jaw muscles which have been stiff and painful as a result of being incapable of relaxing.

“T-Thank you.” Eleanor manages to blurt after a couple stuttering tries. Her voice is shaky, uneven and little more than a whisper. Her eyes meanwhile search and study the man before her. The waitress cannot say why or what she may be looking for, if she is needed looking for anything at all.

Then she feels her arms part and fall away from each other. It’s an amazing feeling; she thinks no longer having to keep them painfully in place like she had been forced to previously and because of whatever had been used to restrain her.

“You’re safe now.” The man promises with a calm, warm tone to his gentle voice.

Eleanor feels what she can only guess are his hands on her. She doesn’t try and break free. Rather, she lets him pick her up. She isn’t sure she’d have been able to do so herself. She wants to know is who her saviour is. So now back on her feet, though in no way feeling steady, and with him having circled round so that they are face-to-face she queries, “W-who are you?”

“Just a passing citizen outraged by what I saw.” Is the uninformative response she gets.

It’s no answer at all and yet something about him seems familiar. Not in a way that suggests they know each other. The waitress is sure they don’t but… She can’t put her finger on it and her train of thought is completely destroyed when he points to her nearby discarded pumps and socks to suggest, “You might want to reapply your footwear and be on your way madam, it isn’t safe to hang out in dark places at night.”

Eleanor, having followed the direction of the handsome man’s finger to find he is indicating the location of her shoes, turns away but only for mere seconds. In that short time she realises he isn’t wearing a mask, which is most unusual, so turns back only to find he’s gone. She’s disappointed, perhaps even a little sad that he didn’t stick around. The feelings are fleeting and quickly replaced by an urge, she cannot resist, to do exactly what he said: gather up her things and head inside.

“You back to helping again?” A female voice queries from the shadows on the roof of a nearby building that overlooks the courtyard.

The handsome dapper man in the suit, Azra, stands along the roofs edge looking down as Eleanor, having finished recovering his possessions, as he had suggested, scurries inside the apartment building.

“I might be Morrigan, I might be. But what is it too you whether I am or not?” Azra replies with a sigh before doing a one eighty to face the shadows.

“Cause this city needs lots of help and you’re good at being everywhere at once.” Is Morrigan’s succinct reply. During it she makes no attempt to step from the shadows that our perfectly obscuring her appearance.

“I’m never everywhere Morrigan, I’m nowhere. You know that.” Azra replies, his voice grow more distant with each word that is spoken.

“That I do. That I do.” The woman says stepping from the shadows and into the spot where Azra had been seconds ago.

Morrigan hasn’t a clue where Azra has gone. She never does. And only ever seems able to catch up to him just as he concludes whatever business he deigns to involve himself in now that he’s returned to the city. She tosses her head of thick dark purple hair back over her shoulder. Her bright yellow eyes analyse the city skyline before her in hopes of determining where Azra might be headed next. Being as unpredictable as the wind it’s almost impossible to know, or it would be if not for him providing her with a clue. It comes in the form of a wisp of black smoke and moves against the flow of the wind. Morrigan smiles, eager to return to the chase, and then leaps from one roof to the next. As she does she changes from the form of a woman to that of a jaguar.

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