The darkness was closing in, taking over the night sky as I found myself standing on the dark green front lawn of an old brick church building. Most of the lights in the building were lit, giving the coming twilight an eerie feeling and I shivered as I glanced around
The church was set atop a hill, looking over a small town, almost like the one where I had grown up in the mountains of northern Vermont. From where I stood, I could see over the rooftops of the houses just one street below and passed that were the lights of the town. The long covered bridge that crossed over the railroad tracks that split the town was down to my right and the body of water that the place was named after rippled its dark tentacles in the light of the moon.
I had no idea what I was doing there, or how I come to be there to begin with, but as I breathed in the clear air, I picked up a hint of smoke. My black hair blended in with the bleakness that surrounded me, and suddenly I noticed that everything I wore was black, right down to the socks. I shook my head, still completely unsure as to how I had woken up in a place believed to be over three hundred miles from the place I had fallen sleep.
It was then, as I stood becoming ever more concerned with my lack of memory, that the first explosion rocked the night. Stained glass burst from the building behind me, and instinctively I ducked down. Screams suddenly filled the quiet and I watched as parishioners scrambled out the doors of the building.
Struck by the sight of the brilliant bright orange and yellow flames that bellowed from the windows where only darkness had been before, I never saw the unruly crowd that came directly at me. Noise and movement filled my senses as the putrid smell of smoke filled my nose and the blinding light of the fire scarred my eyes while my limbs froze in place.
The first grasp I felt shook me from my hypnosis, as the hard grip on my bicep made my fingers tingle, but it was the strong arm that wrapped around my waist that shook me from my petrified state. I swung around to face the person behind me, as I was pulled from what looked like a herd of stampeding elephants, into the safety of the few trees that separated the law from the house just below.
His eyes were deep brown, reflecting the flames brilliantly as I stared down into them. His hair, just as dark as my own fell down to touch his eyes in the front and seemed clean cut the rest of the way, making the feeling of wanting to reach up and push the unruly locks back to get a better look, but as it was, I couldn’t breath. His face was elegant, strong and purposeful, as if saving damsels in distress was something he did every night, but I couldn’t help but want to caress the thin line of his lips as he looked down at me with scolding eyes.
Only slightly taller, his build was hard and muscular against my own, and I felt soft and pliable pressed so close. His strong arms had yet to let me go, and his eyes never wavered from mine. The cologne he wore seemed intoxicating as I suddenly breathed in deeply, aware of my surroundings and awkwardly aware of my savior.
“What are you doing here?” His masculine voice whispered, barely audible over the sound of the panicky crowd behind us, and I shook my head.
“I don’t even know where here is.” My heart quickened and I pressed my hands against his chest, pushing away from him, but the moment I touched him, I could feel the heat coming from his body. “Let me go!”
His eyes turned from stern and commanding to slightly confused and dazed as his fingers wrapped around my wrist, taking my hands from his body. Suddenly, he backed away, seeming just as stunned as I, and he placed his hands on his hips as he looked up at the church. I turned cautiously, unsure of turning my back on the man who had saved me from a good trample and gasped at the sight of the flame-engulfed building.
“What the hell is going on?” I asked quietly, knowing my knight in shining armor could hear me quite clearly.
“Come on.” He whispered placing a hand gently on my waist to push me in the direction the shrinking crowd was going. “We need to get away from here.”
I moved, my body on autopilot as my brain still struggled to comprehend all that had happened, and I began to descend the path to the road below. He stayed right behind me, his hand occasionally grazing against my back, or my bottom, just to let me know that he was there. Suddenly my fight or flight instincts kicked in and I stopped, mid-hill and turned quickly to look at him. The stop was so sudden that the moment I turned I felt his arms circle my waist as he cushioned the blow while he knocked into me, and knocked me into a tree.
I was pressed against the hard bark of the oak, my hands resting on his shoulders as his arms clamped around me. He sighed loudly in my ear as I felt him shake his head, back away and looked me straight in the eye with his eyebrows raised.
“I want to know where I am!” I demanded, and watched as his eyes glanced down on my lips. “And just who the hell are you!”
“Can we just get out of here, and I’ll explain everything?” He asked calmly.
“I’m not going anywhere with you! I don’t even know what the hell is going on here.” I whispered; panic slowly creeping into my tone. I watched him sigh and closed his eyes.
“Look, lady, this isn’t the safest place to do this.”
“My name is not ‘lady’, its Samantha!” I snapped and pushed him away. He rubbed his forehead and followed me as I walked down the hill once again. Once more, I put on the brakes and felt my rescuer bump into me.
“You do that again, and I’m just going to knock you over!” He growled in my ear, but when he noticed that I hadn’t even made a move to turn around, he glanced over at what I was looking at.
There, down at the bottom of the hill, off a main road in town, five hundred feet into a cornfield was a circle of pressed corn stocks and in the middle, a large red Mack truck complete with flashing light.
“What the hell is that?” I questioned and again heard the man behind me sigh.
His black leather jacket crackled, and a voice boomed from the collar.
“Zander, what’s your position?”
“Midway down from ground zero.” He answered, speaking as if he were talking for my ears only, and as he stepped around too look me in the eyes; I could see the expression of worry in his face. “Captain, I think we may have a problem.”
“Get your ass here now, Zander, we’ll figure out your problem when you arrive!” The authoritative voice commanded.
“Now, Lieutenant!” The voice barked.
“Yes sir.” He sighed and rubbed his neck. “Come on, I think I can help you with some of your answers.”
Instead of pressing me on, he gently took my hand and guided me along the path, weaving in and out of the alarmed crowd that had gathered at the bottom. I wanted to run away, to get as far away from the scene as possible, but the warm tingle that I felt from the hand that wrapped around mine seemed to make any coherent thoughts disappear.
I stopped when I could barely see the spot in the cornfield and watched as it faded in and out of sight, as if it were a large television screen with bad reception, and I shook my head as Zander leaned close to my ear.
“Come on, Sam, there’s nothing to be afraid of.” He whispered, his warm breath teasing my chilled skin. I nodded, it seemed the only thing I could do, and grasped the wrist of the hand that held mine tightly.
“Zander? Is that your first name or last?” I questioned, suddenly feeling the fear creeping up inside as we moved threw the stocks.
“First.” He whispered; a smile in his voice, probably glad that I wasn’t yelling at him anymore. “Lieutenant Zander Smith.”
“Samantha Ricketts.” I replied, and watched as he paused and turned to look at me. I waited for him to say something, ‘nice to meet you’ or ‘how wonderful for you’ but he said nothing, just stared. “I’m afraid.”
“There’s nothing to worry about.” He whispered, his voice calming but at the same time full of fire. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”Dawn Gray's Links: