Delilah bolted up in bed.
Her wide eyes stared blindly into the dark of her room for a moment, trying to make sense of the panic that had just struck. As her heartbeat slowed, she pulled the covers back to herself. She always set the thermostat low overnight.
Delilah reached for her nightstand and flipped the switch.
Past the edge of the bed, a sliver of light appeared and began to grow. It was the multicolored glare of the cityscape beyond, filtering through the uncovering windows of her room. They stretched from floor to ceiling, now bright as day.
In the quiet, with her sudden terror past, a shallow dread still remained. Just beyond where her hand lingered at the light switch, her phone sat dead on the stand.
Still fresh in her mind, the dream which had shocked her was replaying. In her sleep-drunk state, the memory blurred with reality, and she saw it. The infinite stairway down.
Something is coming up.
Always coming but never arriving.
Her feet hit the floor. Wrapped in her sheets, Delilah had realized she wouldn’t be able to sleep. As she stood and walked forward, she came to the window. Gently pressing her hand to the edge of a central crack, it suddenly slid apart.
Over the balcony’s white coating in a few crunching footsteps, she then looked out from the railing, leaning hard and sighing a cloud of warm breath.
There was very little she cared about, out there.
Some people care so much.
For her, apathy came naturally. It was a fog long settled in her soul. She had lived with so much fear for so long… That was all which drove them, she thought, looking down on the streets far below.
They all run around collecting more just so they have more to lose.
Not all hope could be avoided, though. Like the want to be wantless.
Her vacant expression broke as she heard the bell sound behind her. A special ringtone.
Deep down, she’d known it was coming.
The road would be long ahead.
Charged on sweets, Skrimp’s mind was a tangle of doubt and certainty. Doubt for what the future would hold, yet certainty in his course.
Scrawny as he was, the newly falling snow aloft on the streaming air had sapped every ounce of heat from his body. Even though he was close now, it was merely to a short break. Even with the sun only a few hours from rising, it was likely he’d be riding the next twenty-four.
Man, my ass hurts.
First, he needed to raid his stash.
As he zoomed down the barren roads, he spotted the telltale marker ahead. The handbrakes on his bike were carefully squeezed to bring him to a crawl. With ice building on the road, he had to be careful not to lose traction.
Every snowflake on his bald head burned a little.
With his kickstand down, facing the building, his eyes began to narrow. It slowly turned over in his mind that the sight before him was wrong.
A black tarp hung in the window of the building surrounded by scaffolds.
That made no sense, though. If it was some kind of trap, that would only give it away. No. None of it was making sense.
It couldn’t be…
While he was distracted, a shape had moved silently down the road. It was upon him. Only the stir of wind brought Skrimp’s attention back, in surprise. Without thinking, his hand flew. He stepped off his bike and stared down the car as it stopped.
The door swung wide.
He drew the gun from his belt and aimed.
The girl stepped out of the car. Her face was almost hidden behind the messy black hair shrouding her. She simply stood, one foot in her vehicle, calmly meeting his gaze with crystal blue eyes as time stretched out.
Twitching with sudden adrenaline, Skrimp’s finger hovered on the trigger.
Snowfall in the headlights drifted slowly. Neither of them would break the silence.
Finally, soft steps approached.
The cat jumped up on the hood of Delilah’s car.
A chill ran down Skrimp’s spine. Instantly, he changed to point his gun at the cat. Everything in this situation, he thought, everything is wrong.
The girl spoke first. “I’m here,” she said, “because Frode needs me.”
“Frode?” Skrimp replied. His eyes darted between a sinister familiar and a pale girl. Drenched in cold sweat, he shook his head. “I d-don’t believe you.”
“Then don’t,” Delilah told him. Her hand raised from behind the door, bringing cold steel into view. The barrel of her gun fell on Skrimp, and at that moment, the sight gripped him. He had every reason to think he had just made his final slip. To his expression of desolation, Delilah offered only hardness. “I don’t care about you.” She started walking. “Time is important right now. I have to save Frode.”
As she approached, Skrimp lowered his weapon. “I sh-should already b-be dead.”
“You’re Skrimp?” She put down her own gun. “Frode told me about you.”
It’s some kind of trick, he thought. “Do you know w-what that thing is?” He gestured to the cat, still as stone on the car.
“More than it seems. I gathered that much.”
“It brought you here.”
“A text did,” she said. As the two of them came face to face by the bike, in arms reach, Delilah suddenly turned. She put her back to him and started for the shopfront.
Skrimp raised his gun again. Indecisively, it drifted between her and the cat. His eyes strayed towards the road, then. He knew he should leave. Forget it all and run. There was too much that was off about all this. Too much risk.
But he remembered what it was all for. Skrimp was here on the run in the first place… for a friend.
His hand fell. “Fuck me, dude.”
Skrimp ran to catch up with Delilah. To help her save his friend.