The circle got closer and closer, and she soon realized that the pillars were so big that she wouldn’t be able to wrap her arms around one.
She felt a chill travel down her spine as she crossed the invisible line that surrounded the circle, and when she looked around she noticed that something was written on each pillar. What, she couldn’t make out, however.
A presence appeared behind her and she spun around, noticing a woman stand in the middle of the circle. She was standing in a shallow pool of water that seemed to boil, even though no vapor came from it and no bubbles were created.
Katrina slowly realized that the woman was standing on the pool of water and she gasped, confused as to why the woman was so calm.
She couldn’t make out any features on the woman seeing as she was covered in shadows, but she could see strands of golden hair and pieces of a golden dress as well as curls of red hair and pieces of a black dress. Was it really only one woman?
A shadowy figure appeared on each side of the woman and she slowly raised her hands as she began floating in the air. Then out of nowhere she began spiraling, faster and faster and a tormented scream knocked the air out of Katrina, sending her backwards –
Katie awoke with a gasp, feeling her heart beat like a drum. A quick glance at the alarmclock told her that she had been sleeping for barely three hours, which was more than she’d slept in a while.
As she slowly calmed down, she realized that her chest hurt, almost as if someone had punshed her really hard. For a brief moment Katie wondered if there were a slight chance that she had been sleep walking, but then realized that that wouldn’t explain the pain. Her mind was working at three hundred miles per hour, going over everything that had happened the last few days.
Who was the mysterious man in the leather coat? Was he the same man she had seen everywhere she had turned, and who seemed to have followed her home? Was he the one she’d seen in the corner of her eye at the cemetary? But she couldn’t for her life figure out why he was following her, because it was likely he was the one who had sneaked inside her apartment, but what could he possibly be looking for? And why did he break in when she was home? And what had he meant with ‘interested party‘? And why her?
Why was Melissa acting so strange? Where did she disappear to after her shifts? Why would she always lock herself away when her phone rang, and why did she look at her so worriedly everytime she’d come out? How did she know that the man at the club called himself Dante when Katie had no idea who he was? He had never ordered anything and she had never seen Melissa talk to him. And who was the two women she argued with when she thought no one was around?
How was it that Adam called in sick once a month, but never stated any apparent reason? What was he hiding behind the locked door in his office? Who was the young blonde man that visited him each month, around the time he called in sick? And who was the red haired woman he talked to in the alley behind Inferno once a week?
Katie sighed deeply and pushed the cover away, crawling out of bed with a headache fit for a hangover. She slowly made her way to the bathroom, shivering slightly when her feet touched the cold floor. Turning on the light, she threw her underwear on the floor and stepped into the shower. Letting the hot water wash over her, she closed her eyes and rested her hands against the wall. Ever so slowly the headache disappeared and she opened her eyes again, switching off the shower.
She walked out of the shower, grabbing a towel and twisted it around her hair, turning to the mirror above the sink. She didn’t like what she saw. Dark rings under her eyes, scratch-wounds on her shoulders and temple and a bruised lip.
People used to say that she was an unusual beauty with her blonde hair, dark green eyes and the couple of piercings that decorated her labret and septum, the ten mm stretched earlobes and the unusual birthmark that covered her back, that which oddly resembled a pair of angelic wings.
She brushed her teeth before walking back into the bedroom, pulling one some underwear and a new pair of black jeans, a lace shirt and a pair of socks. Then she put on her usual silver Ankh necklace, her bracelets and her three rings – two skulls and one with a Celtic knot.
She applied some make-up, mostly to cover up her scraps and bruises and then added the usual eyeliner and mascara. She decided to put on some blood red lipstick, the only color she agreed to wear.
As she walked out into the hallway she grabbed her weapons, holstering them, and her boots, before grabbing her cardigan, jacket and bag and left the apartment.
After locking her door and putting the keys in her pocket, she headed down the stairs and out on the street. She decided to head to her favorite café for some brunch, she hadn’t eaten anything for quite some time after all.
Even though it was Saturday, the streets seemed strangely empty. For a city with that many inhabitants, she met only a handful of people on the fifteen minute walk it took to get to the café. It was almost as if people stayed indoors on purpose.
Her phone rang. She absent-mindedly picked it up and answered, hearing Melissa’s voice on the other end.
“Katie!” She said and she sounded unusually worried. “You okay?”
“Of.. course.” Katie answered. “I’m always fine!”
“Ha-ha.” the laughter sounded forced and Katie frowned, “You didn’t look that fine last night.”
“Thanks for the reminder.” Katie muttered. “Tell me again why you’re my friend?”
“Because I’m the only one who cares about you?!” Melissa did her best to hide the worry that was so very evident, and Katie couldn’t help but feel that something was wrong.
“Hey!” Katie sighed, even though she knew it was true. “Did you want something or did you just call me to remind me that I have no social life?” she asked then, forcing Mel to move on.
Melissa was quiet for a moment, then Katie could hear her sigh. “I was just worried about you.”
Katie swallowed her own worry as she hurried across the street. “Worried?” she asked, “Why are you worried about me?”
“You’ve acted so strange lately!” the woman on the other end stated. “You’ve been absent-minded, you’ve got scratches and bruises and claims to have walked into a door? Katie, for crying out loud -“
“I appriciate the concern, Mel,” Katie cut her off, “but I’m old enough to take care of myself.”
“Are you -“
Katie didn’t hear the rest of the sentence, something else had caught her interest. A hooded figure standing in the shadows of a backalley.
“I’ll have to call you back.” She mumbled and hung up, putting the phone back in her pocket.
She turned left into the alley where she had seen him at the same time as she picked out her gun, cocking it. This was the ninth time she had seen him in the last four days and she wanted to be prepared. But as she reached the end of the alley, she realized that she had missed him – again.
“Fuck!” She muttered and uncocked the gun, holstering it again. Where had he disappeared to? It was a dead end and there was nothing he could hide behind. He couldn’t just have gone up in smoke. Right? She picked up her phone, pressed the shortcut to Mel’s number and pressed the phone against her ear.
“You hang up on me!” There was a wounded tone to her voice and Katie felt a sting of guilt.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I just thought I saw h- someone I know.”
Melissa was quiet for a moment, then she sighed and Katie knew that even though she was hurt, she was going to let it slide. This time.
“Okay,” she muttered, “I get it! But honestly, Kat, I don’t know how much more of your antics I can take.”
Katie stopped in the middle of a step. She knew Melissa had a hard time accepting that she kept secrets from her, but she had never thought that she would come to feel that ending their friendship was the only way out.
“What do you mean?” Katie tried to sound as normal as she could. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Mel swallowed. “It means that either you start to come clean with me, or I’ll walk away..”
Katie took a deep breath, feeling as if she had been stabbed through the heart. “Okay,” she murmured, “fine. I can see that.. Look, I’m going to tell you everything, but only if you promise me something.”
“That you won’t judge me.”
“I won’t.” Melissa replied firmly and Katie knew that she was going to do her best not to.
“Good.” she answered, “Then meet me at the cemetary in two hours and I’ll tell you everything.”
There was a thick silence on the other end and Katie felt her heart skip a beat as she waited for Melissa’s respons.
“Two hours.” it finally came, “And don’t you dare be late.”
Katie ended the call and tried to decide whether she was relieved that she was going to tell Melissa everything, or if she feared the outcome. The last time she had told anyone had she been forced to sit through hours and hours of people asking her whether she’d been sexually assaulted or raped. And then she had been forced to declare that no, she wasn’t lying, no, she wasn’t afraid of the purpetraitor and no, she wasn’t in denial.
With a deep sigh she pushed the door to the café open, steeping inside. She welcomed the pleasant warmth and the mouthwatering scents that filled the little place. The cashier waved at her as she made her way towards the counter, ordering her usual chicken sallad and lemon flavored mineral water.
Thirty minutes later she sat back in her chair, eyeing the small crowd that had gathered at the café. Most of them were regulars, people she saw every time, some of them were people that showed up from time to time and a handful were people she had never seen before.
Katie grabbed her glass and brought it to her lips, emptying it. A feeling of satisfaction slowly settled and she placed the glass back on the tray and pushed it away.
“Isn’t a little late for breakfast?”
The voice made her almost jump out of her skin and she cursed. She glared at the person interrupting her personal time, only to stare right into a couple of dark eyes. So dark they almost seemed black.
“You?” She immediately recognized him from the club, even if he today was dressed in a light blue shirt that was only buttoned halfway, showing of his beautiful tattoos, and a pair of black jeans. He smiled at her and joined her, even though she tried to protest.
“Who else would it be?” He crossed his arms and leaned back, eyeing her curiously.
“Who the hell are you?” She raised her voice, making the other customers look at her curiously. “What do you want from me?”
“Is it so strange that a man wants to enjoy the comapany of a beautiful woman?” The man replied evenly. “A very beautiful woman.”
“Stow it.” Katie muttered. “That doesn’t work on me.”
Before he could come with a witty reply, she noticed something odd. A man at the back glared at her, his eyes shifting between green and black as he got to his feet and walked towards the exit.
“Excuse me.” She mumbled and got to her feet so quickly the chair fell over. Ignoring the curious glances from the customers she hurried after the green-eyed man.
As she got outside, she saw him turn into an alley and she ran after him, pulling out her gun and cocking it. Katie slowed down when she came closer, glancing around the place.
At first she saw nothing but a dead end, but then noticed how he stood at the end, glaring at her. She closed the distance between them, all the while pointing her gun at his head.
“Welcome, Katie.” He mused, his voice dark and it sent shivers down her spine.
“Since when are we on first name basis?” She asked and glared at him through narrowed eyes.
“Since you were born, dear mortal.”
“Mortal? Is it an attempt to mock me?”
“Mock you?” The demon looked at her in disbelief. “You call us demons and think mortal is mockery? You humans are confusing.”
“Then tell me, demon.” She growled in frustration. “What are you doing here?”
“Me?” A sinister smile spread across the demon’s lips, showing a set of sharp, discolored teeth. “I’m just the distraction.”
As on cue, Katie could hear the approaching feet of a dozen demons and her heart quickened in her chest. Soon she was surrounded, each demon more grotesque than the other, and she swallowed heavily.
“But the thing is,” the demon said and took a couple of steps towards her. “we need you alive.”
“Need me?” The fear had kicked in and she began struggling as two demons grabbed hold of her arms, snatching the gun from her hand. “What do you need me for?”
“War!” The demon reach inside his jacket pocket and pulled out a tiny red vial. “Now, if you please..”
One of the demons holding her grabbed hold of her jaw and forced her mouth open. As the leader was about to pour the content down her throat, she heard the sound of wings.
“NOW!” A female voice shouted and three persons appeared from nowhere. Two of them were dressed in familiar black leather coats with their hoods up, while the third wore a black lace and frill dress, something that looked like a modern take on a 1800th century dress. Her red hair was made into a practical hairdo and the elegant way she moved made her look fairy-like.
The coats were wielding sword and the red haired woman was wielding something that looked like a combination of a wand and a crystal.
The demons gave up a unisonal snarl and attacked the newcomers. Katie looked in awe as they cut through the demons as if they were made of butter, sending them back to the underworld.
“Take her!” The woman shouted and one of the coats ran up to her and her captors, throwing something that looked like daggers. As they hit their marks, the demons released their grip off her and staggered backwards before being blown to bits.
The coat grabbed Katie’s arm, “Follow me!” She said and dragged her out of the alley.
When they reached the street, the coat turned right and dragged her along down the street, then turned left and when they finally reached a car park, she let go.
“Who the hell are you?” Katie growled and stared at the shadow where the woman’s face were supposed to be.
“All in good time.” She replied and looked down the street as if she was waiting for something. “All in good time.. They’re late!”
“They? Who’s they?” Katie started to feel frustrated. Why can’t anyone just tell her what the fuck was going on?
Suddenly, out of nowhere, the other woman appeared alongside the other coat, looking as they had just taken a stroll – not fought demons.
“You took your sweet time.” The woman muttered.
“Did I worry you, dear sister?” The second coat answered mockingly. The dark voice made it evident that it was a man and something about it was strangely familiar. She just couldn’t put her finger on it.
The woman laughed. “Worry me?” she asked, “Ha, you would have to do more than be a little late for that.”
“We don’t have time for sibling rivalry.” the other woman urged them. “We have to take her to the Sanctuary!”
“Forgive us, oh great and powerful one.” The man said and bowed slightly. “We are here to do your bidding.”
Katie flinched. She knew she had heard that voice before, not only once but three times. As if they had read her mind they turned towards her, pulling down their hoods.