Sleep is When I'm Most Vulnerable

Submitted into Contest #138 in response to: Write about a character who doesn’t want to go to sleep.... view prompt

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Fantasy Sad Adventure

I didn’t want to talk to this stranger. By much evidence in the past, I could clearly state that anyone I met ended up becoming my enemy. By now, I was starting to believe I was a curse. All I ever did was try to help people. Why did they turn on me in the end?


 “I should probably be leaving,” I hesitantly said to the albino sitting in front of me. She looked up and adjusted her glasses. “Why? You came here for some purpose, I’m sure. You can wait here with me until the library opens. It won’t be much longer.” She looked almost like she didn’t want me to go. And, well, where would I go? Home, if you could call it that, was just so far away. I was in a different city, and without the only two people I could call friends. I sighed. “This is for your own good," I whispered, mostly to myself rather than her. She raised an eyebrow, “Pardon?”


“Oh, never mind!” I sat down on the library steps. “I don’t mean to be rude, but you don’t seem to be a social person.”


Mia fumbled with her glasses again. “I’m not. Well, I don’t mind talking to people, it’s just… no one really talks to me. Probably because… not only are my parents inclined with debt but I also appear to be an egghead, always babbling on about science and stuff.”


I laughed. I don’t know why, but that seemed funny. “You seem like a pretty talkative to me,” I said. “What people think of you doesn’t matter. Go ahead and show them who you are. I bet you'll be a great scientist when you get older. Are you in university?” I asked.


She nodded. Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard the mention of school. The last time I attended school was in third grade. After my parents died, I was adopted by a bar owner and made a worker there, until recently.


“Hey,” I said abruptly. “I needed to go to the library to get a map of this city, but seeing as it’s not open yet, could you just tell me where Stone Road is?”


Mia blinked at the sudden change of topic. “Did you say a map of the city? Are you not from around here?” I shook my head. “Oh, well, uh, Stone Road is more in that direction.” She pointed north. “From here, it's about fifteen minutes by car. Go straight down this road and take a turn on Maple. Drive to Anderson and take a left turn from there. Drive for around two minutes and you will see Stone Road.”


I nodded slowly, taking it all in and mulling it over in my head. Goodness. Seven minutes by car, double that for walking. I blew out a sigh of frustration. “Well, thanks, Mia. It was nice talking with you, but I think I should get a move on.” The sun was up and about now, and I wondered how long it had been. I stood up and dusted my mud-caked clothes. I looked like a wreck! Did Mia not notice or is she just not mentioning it? “Well, goodbye.” I climbed down the steps. 


“Wait.” She called. “You haven’t told me your name.”


“Oh, sorry. I’m Ariel.”


She nodded. “Ariel…” She looked up and we held each other’s gaze for a while. Then I turned and left.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I walked in the general direction of Stone Road but I was so tired and still confused whether I should find my friends or continue looking for the Dove Necklace. My walk was slow, and before I knew it. Night had settled its dark wings over the city. I felt so weak that I dropped to my knees in exasperation. Why? Why I am so tired. All I did was walk today. Then it struck me. My stomach gave a huge, unignorable growl. I couldn’t remember when I last ate. I scraped my mind to remember my last meal. And then it hit me. Back at the forest. That morning I had breakfast with Catrina and Todoriko.

When was that? Three days ago?


I couldn’t see right anymore. My stomach made sure I felt his wrath for not feeding it. My breath came out shallow. I needed food. Now. A soft, feminine voice interrupted my thoughts. Soft, yes. But something was off about it. “Honey, are you alright?” I winced as I got up in a weak sitting position. “Are you hungry? Come, I have a meal, just for you.” She sounded almost teasing. I gritted my teeth and pushed myself to my feet, and barely got a glimpse of the woman when I whirled around in shock and hatred.


 “Not you,” I groaned shakily. My long-time enemy, Elliott Midnight, and a batch of people from her organization stood in front of me with smirks smeared across their faces. Miss Midnight giggled and spoke in her high pitch mocking tone, “Oh my dear, little Ariel! Look at you. Oh, you poor thing. Come on, let’s get you something to eat.” Her brutes held in barrels of their laughter and I narrowed my eyes at her. Miss Midnight mockingly stared down at me. Then she patted a bag slung over her shoulder that clearly contained food in it, and chuckled, shoulders shaking.


“I don’t get it,” I growled. “What is it that you want with me?”

Miss Midnight straitened and talked in her normal voice. “To ruin your life in any way possible.”


I growled, “My life is already ruined! You don’t have to work so hard!”


“I know. But I want to do my bit to spice your wounds a bit like you did mine.” With a snap of her fingers, her dudes surrounded me and I wasn’t resistant. I couldn’t do anything at the moment. They tied my hands behind me with ease, much to their surprise, and Miss Midnight gave me a questioning glare. “What’s wrong? Not feeling so powerful today?” When I remained silent, she signaled her men to take me. And so I followed them off my current course somewhere else.


When we were efficiently hidden by surrounding rubbish and bushes. Anton, one of Miss Midnight’s closest companions and my most despised enemy, placed me in the middle of their little circle. They took out dishes of noodles and other foods which made my head and stomach cry. I kept my face down and tried to ignore them. It’s okay, I told myself over and over. But it wasn’t okay. Miss Midnight was the reason the majority of my life was hell. She made sure she was prominent in my aching life and the scar she left across my face was proof of it. They laughed and teased and talked as they picked at their meals, and I didn’t resist the urge of wishing death upon them all.


A long while had passed and I was steadily weakening. It wouldn’t be long before I passed out. I took deep breaths to steady myself. I felt Miss Midnight’s piercing eyes on me practically the entire time. The talking around me gradually faded and I looked up. All of them were smiling their nasty smiles at me. “Ariel, dear…” Miss Midnight chuckled. “You look so terribly weak. Have you been eating well?” Again, the reaction from her companions satisfied her and I closed my eyes tightly of embarrassment. Miss Midnight grabbed my arm and pulled me towards her. Now is I good time to disappear, I couldn’t help thinking, afraid of whatever it was she was planning to do. She pressed me against her and held out her fork, wrapped gracefully in the still-warm spaghetti. My stomach rumbled but I refused to give her the pleasure she wanted. But, away from the middle of their circle… this could be my only chance to escape. With all the strength I could muster, I jerked my body hard against hers, pushing her to the ground. I scrambled to my feet and ran from the opening I made. Miss Midnight sat herself up, surprise plastered across her face before being replaced with a mean frown.

 Get her,” She growled fiercely and her men scrambled to their feet and ran after me. My hands still tied being my back made it quite awkward to run but all I cared about was getting away.


I turned a sharp corner but tripped as something sturdy and sharp pierced through my thigh. I didn’t even have enough energy to yelp. I just stumbled to my knees and looked back. A sharp pipe was sticking out from a wall at the backside of a store. Water dripped down from it into a rusting bucket. Thinking quickly, I ran to the pipe and used it to cut the ropes tying my hands, hearing the thudding footsteps of my pursuers. I knew the first thing I’d get when they caught me was an unforgiving round of punches and kicks before continued humiliation. I ran forward in twists and turns but the blood dripping from my thigh left a trail, leaving my attempt to lose them in vain. They were breaths away now and I was losing the little bit of speed I had. In front of me were the busy streets and the only turn led to a dead end. As reckless as I was, I decided to run across the street and pray I didn’t get hit by any cars. I had done that before and got away. However, I wasn’t so slow and weak then. As I reached the end of my current path, I felt fingers brush against my shoulder and my heart dropped. It seemed like it was happening in slow motion, my knees gave way by the shock and the hands behind me grabbed my falling body. My eyes were open by a thread.


 A swoosh of air hit me like a storm and I was flying through the streets of the city. I dared to open my eyes and felt myself being seated on a driving motorcycle. I was alerted. I turned around and saw a boy, perhaps a couple of years older than me, wearing motorcycle clothes and a helmet. Underneath the helmet, was a bush of short, messy, pale hair. An albino, and all so familiar. Yet, I had no idea who he was. He looked down at me with a bright, cheerful smile. “Hold on or you’ll fall off.”


I smiled the stranger. “Thank you, but who are you? Do I know you?”


He chuckled. “Nope, but I know you.”


I raised an eyebrow. “How?”


“You met a girl named Mia this morning, right? I’m her older brother.” Ah! That made sense. That’s why he looked so familiar. He was a spitting image of Mia besides the glasses and the fact that he was a guy. “My name’s Sky,” he said. “I’m guessing you’re Ariel? Mia rambled on about you the entire day. She has never talked so much about someone, except science that is. She was so happy she found someone who understood her and all. She kept saying she was gonna become a scientist for sure now because Ariel said she would.” He chuckled again and took a moment to take that in. I never really made anyone happy like that before. It shook me. “She described you so well, I recognized you back there even in the shadows, and when I saw you were in trouble, I flew in for the rescue. I was on a ride with my friends. I usually do that at night time. It was just luck I saw you in time. You can relax now. I’ll call the police on them. Who were those guys anyway?”


My brain hurt. My God! He talks so fast! I groaned as an answer and he chuckled. I guess he liked doing that. He seems like a very positive-vibed guy. “Sorry. Yea, I know, I can be a big jabber. I talk too much. You should just take it easy ‘cause I understand you’ve just been through a lot and must be tired. I’ll be quiet now.” And that he did. He drove smoothly down the road as Sky hummed a tune of a calming song to himself.


“Hey," I said after a while. “Could you drop me off at Stone Road?” I asked, remembering my task at hand. Sky continued humming for a while before answering. “Stone Road? We're going in the opposite direction right now. I could drop you off in the morning. Besides, I don’t think you’re in any condition to go anywhere. I also happen to know you’re an orphan.”


I sat up. “Is it that obvious?” I looked down at my pitiful state. Tears welled up inside my eyes. I knew I was an orphan, but something told me not to believe it. It hurt to hear someone call me that.

“It’s alright. After a decent meal and some sleep, you can continue on your way. I have no right to interrupt your plans, but just out of understanding on how to take care of persistent youth who don’t know what’s best for them, I think you should not go anywhere right now, ok?” His tone was soft so I nodded, despite not wanting to go to sleep. That was when I was most vulnerable. He seemed content with that and continued his humming. A while later, distant sounds of motorcycle engines came closer until five other motorcyclists were around Sky. He looked around. “Oh hey, guys.”

“What do you mean, ‘hey’? Where’d you suddenly disappear to, you wandering cloud?” a raspy-voiced guy with black and red dyed hair asked.


“Sorry. Got caught up in something. I’ll just drop her off and we can continue our ride, ‘Kay?” he replied.


His friends went silent after that. I wondered if it was my weakness that showed them something serious was at hand.


Three minutes later, we reached a small house and Sky guided me inside, opening the locked door with a pair of keys he took out from his pocket. He called for Mia and she walked to the entrance from presumably the kitchen. Mia was a bit surprised when she saw me, but Sky didn’t fill her in on the five Ws. “Give her something to eat and a place to rest. I’ll take her in the morning, ‘kay?”


Mia nodded dumbly and then Sky and his friends left again. Mia smiled brightly at me despite her confusion and led me to the kitchen, swooping me a full plate of mashed potatoes, peas, and rice. I tried to eat modestly, but in the end, the entire pot was finished. I blushed at the empty pot but Mia just laughed. “S’all right. Do you want more?” I shook my head. She took me upstairs. “Rest and don’t you worry about anything okay?” she said and closed the door behind her.


Except I have everything to worry about. This is too good to be true. I nice full stomach and a comfy bed? Life couldn’t be giving a break, could it?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning, I was woken from a deep sleep by something rough being wrapped around my hands. I woke up with a start, discovering a gag striped over my mouth. Through my blurry gaze, I saw Miss Midnight towering over me.


How did they…?


Anton heaved me up in one of his shoulders as another guy tried to tie my legs. I frantically bit Anton hard on his back through the gag and he chucked me off with a growl.


I scrambled up and ripped the gag from my mouth. In the corner of the room, I saw Mia standing there and my eyes filled up with anger. Betrayal!


“I’m sorry,” she peeped when she saw my eyes meet hers. “They promised me a lot of money. You already know my parents are in debt.”


My eyes softened. Not because of what she said, but because I remembered that this was meant to happen. Everyone I meet becomes my enemy.


I ran to the window and jumped down without hesitation. I had fallen out of a window countless times and was quite used to it now. Miss Midnight had personally chucked me out of a window once, thirteen stories high. It took me forever to heal from that. She had been angry at the time and lost it, banging me against the closed window so hard the glass shattered and then… she let go of my collar and watched me fall. Anger flushed through me yet again. I hated her! More than anything. She had shown me so much violence and humiliation. I was not gonna let her win over me! Not ever.


I ran through the streets and artificial beaches, unaware of my direction. As I ran on the sidewalk, I heard the familiar sound of multiple motorcycles. I headed in that direction and gratefully spotted Sky and his gang of friends. I waved frantically until they came to me. “Sky! I need your help!”


Sky looked alarmed by my situation. “Are you alright? I was coming just for you. You look shaken. Where’s Mia? Does she know you're out here?”


“It’s a long story,” I said, panting. “I need you to take me to Stone Road now!” Sky walked over and put a hand on my shoulder to calm me.


“Easy,” he soothed.


“Listen I don’t have any time I need to-"


 CLAMP!


I stared with wide eyes at Sky who had smacked my hands together in a tight lock. A smirk emerged on his face as my eyeballs shook. “Sky?”


“Sorry kiddo,” he said as his eyes fell in shadow.


“I’m being paid a lot for this…”

March 22, 2022 21:39

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2 comments

Becca Ward
15:19 Mar 29, 2022

I like the line “eyes fell in shadow” Using light and dark imagery always adds an ominous element, even if the weather is perfectly normal in real life. Actually, it’s mythical.

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Duha Khan
16:18 Mar 29, 2022

Thank you!

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