Runaway Ch. 01bywhite_dove©
Her fingers thrummed anxiously on the steering wheel. It was late, very late, and the pitch darkness seemed to go on forever ahead of her. She wasn't sure what part of the country she was in any more, only that it had been miles since she'd seen another soul, or even another light apart from the glaring headlights of her rustic Cadillac.
Her only justification for her dire circumstances was the knowledge that she hadn't had a choice. For the last year that she'd been on the run, one of her most useful tools were the local and national newspapers. She made sure to scour them every day, taking note of any suspicious murders or assaults. Sometimes even those that didn't seem suspicious, that not many people would pick up on as anything out of the ordinary. Lately she had been seeing sporadic reports in the local rag about mysterious murders across the state. From the pattern, it would appear there was a serial killer on the loose, targeting the elderly. She was certain the first few, or even the first dozen would have gone unnoticed. Elderly men and women passed away all the time, and their families rarely ordered an autopsy. It was only the latest few victims that had been opened up, and the coroners had been shocked to discover their bodies entirely drained of blood.
She recalled reading the report over her usual black coffee before her diner shift started the morning before. It had been a few pages into the paper, the usual buzz of nerves she still felt every time she opened a newspaper had even begun to wane. She'd nearly choked on her coffee when she read the headline, 'Serial killer trails elderly victims across the state.' She'd forced herself to remain calm, and finish reading the article to confirm her suspicions. By the time she was finished, she knew they'd been on her trail for a while. If the police were only picking up a pattern now, there were possibly scores of other victims. The latest killings were in a town about ten miles north of where she currently resided. She silently cursed herself for staying in one place too long. She had let herself get too cosy, had become careless. It was hard not to, though. She had a steady, if not glamorous job, waitressing at the local, a small one-bedroom apartment a few blocks away with affordable rent, and friendly neighbours and co-workers who didn't ask too many questions.
She went through her mental check list, prepared months ago in the event of something like this happening. She decided to get the hardest task out of the way first. Glancing at the diner clock and seeing she had only five minutes before her shift started, she gulped down her now lukewarm coffee, tucked the paper into her bag and made her way over to the counter.
"Bill?" she said meekly, drawing him out of the reverie of his crime novel. He too liked to get some reading done before opening shop for the day.
"What can I do for you, my girl?" he smiled at her from under bushy grey eyebrows.
She smiled back, only faking it because she hated that she had to lie to the man who had very much taken her under his wing for the last three months. Bill had a heart of gold, and was a Southern gentleman if she'd ever met one. He'd lived in this small town his entire life, played football for the local high school, and taken over his parents' diner when they retired. He'd married a local girl thirty years ago and still ate like he played football every day, thus the widening girth beneath his button-up shirt.
"I hate to ask, Bill, but I'm afraid I need a favour this week," she said, looking up at him with her big blue eyes.
Bill looked at his timid employee in her desperate attempt to be assertive. He was very fond of her, he'd had a good feeling about her from the moment she'd walked into his diner looking for work, her long auburn curls all mussed up from the wind. She reminded him so much of the daughter he'd lost five years ago when some drunk yahoo wrapped his car around a telegraph pole with her in the passenger seat. He didn't know if it was just his paternal instinct kicking in again, but he couldn't help but worry about her. She was somewhat athletic-looking, but naturally voluptuous. Nonetheless, she never seemed to eat anything, seemed constantly stressed and was jumpy as a rabbit. He couldn't help but notice that she'd lost a little weight over the months she'd been here.
"My rent's gone up and I haven't been as frugal with my money as I should've been," she continued, "I was hoping you could help me out with this week's wages in advance so I can sort out my rent and kick myself a little.. with financial security."
"That landlord of your's giving you trouble?" Bill asked, piqued on her behalf, "Because you know if he's not treating you fair, I can go over and sort him out myself."
Her eyes widened, "Oh, no, Bill. Nothing like that. He gave me a few weeks notice, but I forgot like an idiot." It was funny how easily she lied these days, even when it was to someone she cared about.
"Well.. how soon in advance do you need it?"
She flushed a little.
"Well, my landlord actually wants me to drop it over on my break this afternoon," she said, "Is that asking too much?"
Bill's big heart melted just a little. She was far too young to have to worry about keeping a roof over her head. Every time he looked into those big blue eyes he could see a world of pain that he had never been game to ask her about. It was obvious that she had seen far more than a girl of her age deserved.
"Of course it's not. Come on girl, let's get you sorted," he said, heading towards his office where the safe was situated.
She politely turned her head as Bill dialled in the safe combination. He looked up at her as he was counting out her usual week's wages.
"Now how many times do I have to tell you that you're most welcome to come and live with Maureen and I in that little granny flat off our house? Free of charge, of course."
"Oh, Bill, you know I can't live off you like some kind of squatter, you already pay my bills as it is," she joked lamely.
"That being said, it's not the safest thing in the world, a young lady like yourself living alone and often working nights. Tell me you'll at least think about it," he said, handing her the cash.
"I will," she promised, trying to stop tears from welling in her eyes as she rose up on her toes to plant a kiss on his cheek, "Thanks, Bill."
She passed the next few hours with a determined smile on her face. All she felt like doing was breaking down into tears. She didn't want to leave, she really didn't. But she was on the run from something that would never stop, and that would put everyone she cared about here in danger. When she signed off for her break, she waved at Bill from the door, knowing it was the last time she would ever see him. The first thing she did was head over to the bank.
"I'd like to close my account and withdraw all funds," she said simply, not knowing that her usual porcelain complexion was sickly pale, her rosy lips white.
"You sure everything's ok, love?" the teller asked through her bubblegum-pink lipstick, tilting her blonde-bobbed head to the side.
"Yes," she replied firmly, producing her identification.
Once she walked out of the bank, a modest but substantial wad of cash stowed in her bag, she made her way back to her apartment and immediately threw her meagre possessions into her black rucksack. All she packed were her clothes, bought from charity and op shops; toiletries; some non-perishable foodstuff; a few books. Other than that, she had a few survival essentials; candles, a lighter, Swiss army knife, pepper spray, and a few blankets. The only item of jewellery she had was the silver heart-shaped pendant she wore around her neck. It had belonged to her mother, and was the only material item she really attached any value to. When she had been with them, they had adorned her with gifts and trinkets. But to her, the pretty keepsakes had represented branding irons, she had been so glad when she ran away to be able to throw them off.
She shuddered and pushed those thoughts down. She had managed to elude them for almost a year now, she had no intention of falling back into their possessive clutches.
She threw off the diner t-shirt she was wearing, and left it folded neatly on the bedspread. Sorry Bill, she thought despondently as she padded in her black shorts and bra to her rucksack and pulled out a black singlet and red checked flannel shirt to wear. She was a criminal, a thief. Her rent was actually due tomorrow, but she had no intention of sticking around to pay it, or to work the shifts she'd just received payment in advance for out of the kindness of her boss' heart. She knew there was no way she could ever come back here now, even if she wasn't on the run. Not after skipping town like she was about to do.
Once she was certain that everything she needed was packed, she picked up her rucksack and headed out the door, hoping no one would see her leave. It was the middle of the day, so almost everyone would be at work. She locked the apartment door, then broke the key off her keyring and slipped it under the door.
She stared at the wooden panelling for a moment, wishing things could have been different. She could have been happy here, she knew it. More than anything, then, she wished her life could have been normal, unaffected by darkness. Goodbye, she thought, before picking up her rucksack and slipping quickly and quietly into her parked Cadillac on the street below.
She'd spent the day driving south-west towards Austin, since the pattern of murders seemed to be following her south. She had a good mind to trade the car in when she reached Austin and jump a plane to the West Coast to throw them right off. But right now, with the resources she had, she was just focussed on putting as much distance between them as possible.
In the late afternoon she'd stopped by a dirty motel.
"How much for an hour?" she asked bluntly. She knew places like this were renowned for being cheap, fast and dirty. The greasy manager looked her up and down, grinning, his gut poking out from under his grimy singlet.
"Meeting someone, are you, darlin'?"
"Yeah," she said, "How much for an hour?"
Slightly put off by her blunt manner, he mumbled a price and handed over a room key, telling her not to make too much noise on account of the other guests. She rolled her eyes, knowing the room rate he'd given her was extravagant for a hole like this, but in no mood to negotiate. All she wanted was a hot shower and strong coffee to keep her going through the night.
The room wasn't as bad as she expected. It was quite clean, with fresh sheets and towels, and even a bar of soap.
She ran a hot shower, scrubbed herself raw with the cheap hotel soap, and washed her hair, using her own products. She towelled herself dry, leaving her auburn tresses to dry of their own accord. She applied moisturiser all over her creamy white skin, and pulled on a fresh pair of black panties and bra. Starting to feel human again, she was surprised and glad to find a kettle in the room, boiling it and brewing herself a cup of coffee from the sachet in her rucksack.
As she waited for it to cool, she pulled on a pair of black cotton stockings, and a floaty cream dress of the same material. The dress hit her mid-thigh, cinched in expertly at the waist and emphasised her hourglass figure. Her usual pair of black combat boots sat beside the bed as she sat down and sipped her coffee. It was tempting, very tempting to sink into the softness of the bed and convince herself that she'd travelled far enough for the day. But she knew that their senses were heightened at night, and they were far too close behind her for comfort. The result was that even if she had wanted to relax, she was high-strung and jittery, and knew she wouldn't be able to sleep without making some serious distance.
So, after draining the contents of her cup, she picked up her rucksack and made her way down the stairs. She was used to leaving places behind without a second thought by now, not that this place afforded one. When she reached front desk the greasy manager was snoring in his chair. Not wanting to deal with any more lewd small talk, she left the room key and cash on the desk in front of him and strode out the door.
That had been more than six hours ago. She had been driving for a very, very long time with only the radio and her own thoughts for company. It was now very late at night, or very early in the morning, and she could feel the effects of fatigue settling in. She knew she must have taken a wrong turn at some point to be on this dirt road that appeared to be heading nowhere. Her intentions a mere hour ago had been to stick it out until she reached the next town, get a motel room for the day and get some rest, then refuel and get directions to Austin. But as more and more time passed without passing a single house, she conceded that she would probably have to sleep in her car until morning. Her petrol meter was getting very low, and the last thing she needed was to be stuck in the middle of nowhere in the pitch black of night.
Just as she was giving up hope, her headlights shined on what appeared to be a dilapidated farmhouse. She knew it was the middle of the night, and the lights were off, but she hoped the owners could at the very least direct her towards the nearest town.
She got out of her car and locked it, carrying her rucksack with her as a security blanket. As she approached the house, it seemed more and more apparent that no one lived there. The plants were overgrown, and the front steps almost completely rotted through. When she hammered on the front door it swung open before her, almost coming off its hinges.
She stepped inside the dusty interior, groping the walls for a light switch only to find that the electricity didn't work. She dug through her rucksack and produced a candle and lighter, quickly illuminating what seemed to be an abandoned premises.
There was dust covering every surface, and absolutely no furniture. As she walked through the, towards the back of the house facing the farmland, the floorboards creaked. She entered what appeared to have been a living room, it had a large fireplace and a window through which the moonlight was filtering. She resolved to sleep there at least until morning, figuring it would be warmer and more spacious than her car.
She laid down a few blankets on the floorboards, and kept the candle at her makeshift bedside. She was far too spooked to blow it out, but just tired enough to remain there for the night. Exhausted, she pulled off her boots and slipped under the blankets, falling almost immediately into a restless sleep.
He strode through the dewy field, gazing up at the moon, still high above them. The night was far from over, but it was well past midnight, and he wanted to finish this tonight.
It seemed there was nothing before them for miles but the vast expanse of rolling hills and fields. He knew that in the daylight they would be lush green pastures. But as it was, he would only ever see them in the inky pitch of night.
His companion strode beside him, naked and barefoot but for the pair of black leather breeches riding just below his hips, his lean, muscled arms and chest at the mercy of the elements. He never really had adjusted to any turn of the century, nor their subsequent changes in common attire. Despite the countless years without the sun, this man's skin had remained the deep tan it had been all his life, contrasting with his own pale alabaster.
He himself preferred the executive cut of a designer suit; black, with impeccably polished shoes to match. He wore a silk shirt of deep midnight blue underneath, to match his eyes. Some might call him vain, but he preferred to think of himself as flawlessly coordinated.
He didn't let the seemingly boundless darkness before them deceive him, the only reason they had taken from the skies was that he could sense their charge was near. As they continued to walk, his sharp eyes caught sight of a flicker of light in the distance.
"Nathaniel," he growled, coming to a stop. There was a very distinct command behind that one word.
Nathaniel paused silently, not questioning his companion's sharper senses.
He focussed intently on the flicker of light before him, and then closed his eyes, reaching out with his mind, and let his predatory senses take over.
He gasped. He could feel her, hear her unmistakable heart beat in the steady thrum of deep slumber. He took a few steps forward, and with each one the clawing in his chest abated slightly, and the fury in his belly and loins increased tenfold.
"She's there," he growled to Nathaniel, who was tensed in animalistic readiness for the hunt, before they both took off at a sprint into the darkness.
So this is my first submission. No sex yet, I know, but I like to set atmosphere first. I've been out of the writing game for a while now, so would really appreciate any constructive feedback. Cheers!