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Breath of Life

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The first thing Meg notices when she wakes up is just how warm she is.  The gentle crackle of the campfire calms her nerves as she listens to it beside her, feeling the weight of her sleeping bag draped on top of her.  She’s so warm, and she hasn’t felt the pressure of the Entity or the fog calling her for a trial in awhile which is always a good sign.

The first thing she does is listen for her friends.  Between everyone being in trials at different times and it seemingly always being eternally night, there were always a couple people awake at any given time.

Knowing that they were awake and they were there became a comfort to Meg, something she relied on when she woke up.

She would listen to David and Nea loudly banter and talk about different ways of fighting, or Ace trying to do magic tricks with various leafs and branches he found, which he also tried to make his own cards out of.  She would hear Claudette, Dwight, Feng, and Jake quietly talking and laughing, retelling old stories they liked like Star Wars and Harry Potter.  What always made Meg smile, even if she wasn’t too interested in either one of those, is how they changed with each telling of the story by each person.

It was a fun way to pass the time since they didn’t have any books or tv to prove that their retelling was the true one or not.

Bill and Ash would be slightly apart from the group, retelling stories from their “good ol’ days that the kids wouldn’t understand”, and although they spent a lot of time sitting on the edge of the forest, gazing out into the darkness, reminiscing about a life that they were convinced they’d never see again, they were just as much a part of the survivor family.

Nea and Feng always referred to them as the grumpy dads of the group, and the more they said that, the more Meg could see it.

The times Meg loved the most though, was waking up slowly to the sound of soft guitar music that Kate would play around the campfire.  On occasion, Jeff would join in, his soft voice floating above everything, making it feel like they really had no problems in the world.

They had nothing to worry about.

That is, until Meg finally woke up and discovered that she definitely had problems.

Just like now.

Meg shifts slightly, her neck throbbing painfully from being in the same uncomfortable position that she fell asleep in, and it isn’t until then that she realizes that she’s not sleeping on the ground.

And she’s not under her sleeping bag.

Cracking her eyes open just a bit, she groans at the realization of where she slept as a stabbing pain radiates through her head in time with her heartbeat.

She sees a house, a fireplace, and a purple knitted blanket covering her.

As she looks around, her mind begins to acclimate back to where she is, in the current time, as her chest grows heavy with longing for her friends.

For someone familiar.

Someone who isn’t Evan MacMillan.

She takes a deep breath and twists her body so she’s sitting in the chair properly as she pieces things together fairly quickly, her mind catching up to the current times, but the purple blanket, that is still a mystery to her.

Did Evan put it on her? She can’t imagine him ever having a purple knitted blanket, or really anything warm.

Pulling the blanket to the side, she gets up, and her head spins at the sudden change.  Her hand grips the armchair for some sort of stability as she unsticks her tongue from the roof of her mouth with a dry click.

Water.

She just needs water.

As she looks to her right, she sees a glass set out, already filled with water and she frowns, feeling as though she is being treated like a child.

Did Evan put that out too?

Does he have absolutely no confidence in her?

But then again…

‘He’s trying to take care of you.’

‘I don’t need to be taken care of, and especially not by him.’

Hesitating as she looks between the water and the blanket, her mind whirls wondering why he would try to be so nice to her lately.

Did he feel bad about last night?

Or is it larger than just last night? Did he feel bad about everything he did? He said as much, but Meg didn’t think it quite constituted him now setting things out for her and covering her up with a blanket as though she was incapable of handling herself.

Plus, a blanket and a  glass of water can hardly make up for years of torture by him.

Sighing, she knows she can’t refuse the water as she tries to swallow, her throat as dry as a desert and her tongue feels like sandpaper.

Looking around, she confirms that she is alone, as she takes the glass and gulps it down in just a few seconds as she makes sure she gets every drop.

“You’re finally awake,” Evan interrupts her as he comes around the corner.

Almost dropping the glass, she looks at him with a sour expression plastered on her face.

“For someone who I could hear coming from miles away before, you tend to have a surprisingly light step now.”

“It’s useful for hunting.” Evan shrugs.

Meg swallows, not quite sure where to start and suddenly feeling self-conscious under his gaze as she remembers the purple blanket and the fact that she fell asleep.

While he was sitting across from her.

They were talking and she fell asleep.

“Did you put this blanket on me?” Meg asks, running her fingers over the soft wool of the blanket.

Evan looks between her and the blanket with an odd expression on his face that Meg can’t quite place.

“Where else would the blanket have come from?” He says finally looking at Meg and not looking away.

Meg lets out a breathy laugh, “Well I just didn’t think you’d even have something like this, let alone cover me while I was sleeping.”

“My mother made it for me when I was young,” Evan says, not breaking eye contact, “I figured someone may as well use it.”

Meg nods, not quite sure whether to say thank you or really what to say at all.  From last night, anytime Evan mentioned his mother, it seemed like a sensitive subject, so Meg thought it best not to push it for now. 

She can always ask later, after all.

She begins to open her mouth to explain or apologize for falling asleep on him to begin with, she wasn’t sure which one until something came out, but before she could say anything, Evan turns around and gestures for her to follow.

“Come with me,” Evan demands, not even looking at her as he speaks and changes the subject.

“What? Why?” Meg asks, refusing to move until he tells her where they are going.

“We are going hunting.”

“Hunting?”

“You said it yourself,” Evan stops walking as he turns his head slightly towards her, his mouth turned up in a mocking smirk, “You want to do everything a man does, so we are going to go hunting.”

Meg opens and closes her mouth, looking for the right words to protest, saying that this isn’t what she meant last night.

She expected him to help with dusting since it’s his house, and plus he could help even if it wasn’t.

She didn’t expect him to take it to heart and expect her to hunt with him.  She doesn’t even know the first thing about hunting.

“Well, come on,” he says, walking out the door though he stands there holding it open for her, his eyes scanning around the trees outside, a hunter preparing for anything. 

“Fine.”

Meg follows him out of the house only to be greeted by cold chilly air.  The sun has yet to rise but the sky grows lighter with every passing second, casting beautiful rays of violet and pink.

“Why are we hunting this early?” Meg asks, following Evan.

“You want food for the day, don’t you?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Hunting while you’re hungry isn’t a pleasant experience, therefore if we go now we will have food for the day.”

Meg hums in acknowledgement as she follows behind him.

“Well, to be fair, we aren’t really hunting, I already set out traps earlier.  I just need to go check them to see if we got anything.”

“Then why do you need to me to come along?”

“I don’t.  But if you want to help, at least now you’ll know where to place them in the future and what to look for.”

Trying to hold back a shiver that runs down Meg’s spine, she looks up at him.

“I guess I should thank you for teaching me?”

“I don’t need any thanks.  Just do the job and we can go home.”

Meg’s eyebrows shoot up her forehead at the attitude that comes from him.  He’s the one that asked her out here and she is just trying to be polite.

She takes a deep breath, trying not to say anything back that will get him in a bad mood, as it seems he usually is.

Regardless of that, Meg never would have guessed how sassy he could be and it almost makes her want to laugh.

The Trapper having sass even when she isn’t doing anything to provoke it.

If only her friends could see him now…

They walk in silence as the sun rises slowly, illuminating the sky turning wisps of clouds into beautiful shades of orange and pink.  As it begins to get lighter, Meg can see the slight sheen of morning dew decorate the grass that she can’t help but smile at.  Birds begin to chirp around them as the wind rustles the leaves on the ground, bringing the woods to life.

It reminds Meg of when she used to go out for early morning runs, when she was sure that she had time all to herself. She loved the crispness of the air, the way that she could watch the world wake up around her, and the way she could just enjoy nature and enjoy being a part of the world, really connecting to it.  She hasn’t felt this way in a long time.

“You said you set the traps out earlier,” Meg speaks up, a little out of breath trying to keep up with his long stride, “But I couldn’t have been asleep for too long since it's still dark out.  Did you get any sleep at all?”

“No,” Evan says, looking straight ahead.

“Have you slept at all since being here?”

Evan doesn’t say anything, but his silence speaks volumes.

“You really should try to sleep.”

“I don’t need you telling me what to do.  I will sleep when I need to,” Evan snaps at her.

“You drank a lot last night and you still haven’t slept, so sorry that I want to know you’re not just going to pass out on me in the woods, okay?” Meg defends herself, shoving her hands into her pockets and frowning. 

Evan scoffs at her yet says nothing.  Meg sighs to herself.  She doesn’t want to fight so she doesn’t try to press the matter any more.

It’s his problem if he doesn’t sleep, not hers.

So they continue their journey in silence, Evan leading the way as they check about five different traps that he placed in different areas around the woods. Meg stares at each of the traps and her surroundings, drilling the locations of them in her head.  A phantom pain pulses in her ankles remembering how painful it was to step in one.  That is something she never wants to experience again.

Continuing on and checking the traps, the first four were empty and untouched, but while they approach the fifth trap, Meg hears the poor animal before she sees it.  Mewls of pain tear from a trapped deer as it thrashes around violently trying to tear its leg from the closed steel jaws.

Evan grunts, his face emotionless, as he pulls out a knife and walks over to the deer.  As though it were second nature to him, he presses the blade into the neck of the deer and gently helps it to the ground, the thrashing grows weaker and the cries of pain quiet with each passing second.

Meg’s whole body shudders as she hunches over, turning around and placing a hand over her mouth.  Flashes of the trials appear in her mind like lightening as her ankle now doesn’t just throb, it stabs her at the thought of what the deer went through.

Yes, they had to hunt and get food.

Yes, the animal was going to die.

But she didn’t quite realize how seeing a bloody dead animal in a trap would effect her until now. 

“What’s wrong?” Evan asks as he resets the trap and slings the deer over his massive shoulder, blood dripping down the front of his shirt.

“Nothing,” Meg spits excess saliva out of her mouth, still refusing to face the trap.  “It’s nothing.”

Evan stops for a moment, just a brief moment, as though he is questioning whether to keep at the question.  It is clear he decides against it, as he turns around without another word and heads back to the estate.

Trying to gear her mind back to her current situation, she follows, staring at the ground with her arms across her chest, hugging herself tight.

As they approach the estate, Evan stops, dropping off the deer outside.  His shoulders sag slightly, and he turns around to face Meg who, not knowing he wasn’t going to keep going, walks straight into his chest.

His arms twitch by his sides as Meg shakes her head and looks up at him.

“Sorry,” she mutters as she tries to walk around him. 

“Something is bothering you,” he states, a simple sentence, but it was definitely not a question.  “You haven’t been this quiet ever since you got here, and not that I’m complaining, but it’s different.”

“It was just the bear-traps, I’ll be fine,” Meg snaps, then immediately regretting the outburst.  “It just reminded me of the trials, I’ll be okay after getting away from…” She glances at the dead deer on the ground, blood still oozing from the wound on its neck and on its leg.

Evan’s chest deflates slightly as he looks down at Meg, who shuffles her weight from one foot to the other. 

“I didn’t think about how the traps could impact you,” Evan says, staring down at Meg who doesn’t make eye contact with him.  “Or the dead animal, I apologize.”  He looks forward above her head rather than at her, and for just a second, he begins to raise his arm, making Meg think he was going to give her a pat on the back or something just as unnatural for him.

But just as quickly as his hand comes up, it floats it in the air for just a second, before he changes his mind and turns around.

“I was going to teach you how to skin and cook a deer.  But if you’re not up for it right now, you can get started on dusting.  I’ll make breakfast.”

Meg’s lips pull into a small smile at the gesture, and as much as she doesn’t want to admit it, it is surprisingly sweet coming from him, who just yesterday was yelling at her in the streets.

Following him inside, he goes straight to a closet in a room in the back of the house, and pulls out an old fashion looking feather duster and a towel.

“The maids used to keep their supplies in here, if you need anything else, it’ll be in here,” he says, handing the supplies to Meg.

“We need to get better supplies,” she says as she looks between the feather duster and towel.  “It’s going to take a lot more than this to clean this house.”

“Well what else is there?”

“Really?” Meg blurts out as though he’s telling a funny joke, “They have way better tools now, or at least they did when I used to clean.  I can only imagine what they have now.”

“And with what money do you propose we use to buy these supplies?”

“Well, I mean, I didn’t mean we need to get them right now.  We can figure something out,” Meg says looking up at Evan who just looks at her with a frown on his face.  “This is good for now.”

“Good,” he starts saying while turning around, “I’ll let you know when breakfast is ready.”

Meg watches him turn the corner, and once she knows that he is busy, the telltale sound of cabinets opening and closing as well as cast iron pans being set out, she gets to work.

Grabbing the old supplies such as a very stiff broom, a bunch of towels, and a feather duster, she sighs and walks out into the hallway, deciding on where exactly she wants to start.

She could start in her room; she has seen firsthand how much it needs it, but as she begins to climb the staircase, she looks to her right, slowly eyeing the study that Evan told her not to go into.

The very act of looking at the two giant, dark, mahogany doors that guard the study like a prison cell causes sirens to blare in Meg’s mind knowing that she can’t go in, but at the same time, what harm would there be if she just took a peek in?

If she doesn’t actually go in, there can’t be any fault to it, right?

Right?

Despite every rational thought in her head telling her not to let go of the railing to go upstairs, she looks around briefly before letting go and creeping ever so softly over to the doors.  Her walk, the way she hunches over, and the way she controls her breathing all remind her of how she used to sneak in the trials, and even though she hopes this isn’t a life or death situation, she knows she shouldn’t even be thinking of going in.

But what Evan doesn’t know can’t hurt him, or hurt her.

So despite her best judgement, her hand hovers above the golden doorknob, truly wondering if this is the best choice…

Nothing good has ever come from Meg thinking anything through…

So she opens the door and before she changes her mind, she slips inside, quiet as a mouse, and closes the door behind her, hoping Evan doesn't hear the latch click as she stands there silently holding her breath.

No footsteps approach the room.

So she takes this chance to look around just from her vantage point in the doorway with the full intent of not going inside more.

The study itself looks like what a normal study would look like if you were to say that word to Meg.

The walls on either side of her are lined with leather bound books with gold print.  From the ones she can see to her immediate right, there are history books along with science, astronomy, and botany.  To her left, there are piles of papers shoved in between books of mythology and books of wars between gods and men.

Directly in front of her, there is a large mahogany desk, the same design and wood as the doors and bookcases, and a large wooden chair behind the desk, and although no one sits in the chair, the sheer size and intricate design of the chair leaves Meg feeling intimidated and small.

Now that she got a good look around, she knows she needs to leave.  Her legs twitch thinking about turning around, but right as she’s about to leave, her eyes catch a paper that is on the floor, slightly torn up and yellow, but the drawing on it is very clear.

It features a dark misty circle with what appears to be spider legs coming out from the mist.

Meg stops breathing for a moment as she blinks multiple times to make sure she isn’t just seeing the picture.

It isn’t her mind playing tricks on her.

It isn’t her imagination.

Swallowing the bubbling sense of panic that rises in her throat, she takes a step into the study knowing that she is breaking every single thread of trust that Evan and her developed the last day.

Granted, it wasn’t much, but regardless, Meg can only imagine how he would react seeing her in here.

She doesn’t want to find out.

She listens once more and all she hears are the unmistakable clatter of utensils on pans, making food from the other room.

With her chest puffed out and her fists clenched, she walks over to the paper on the ground.

As she picks it up, she knows she wasn’t wrong.

The legs that come out of the spiraling mist look exactly like the ones that killed her day in and day out for years, as the mist looks like the same that would carry her up as she died, only to be resurrected at the campfire once more.

She saw this exact image so much, it is burned into her brain like a scar.  It will never go away, no matter how much time has passed, she can almost guarantee that.

Gripping the paper so hard in her hand, she walks over to the desk.  There are papers all strewn out across it in a haphazard fashion and clearly not organized.

Whoever was in here last, and Meg could only assume was Archie MacMillan, wasn’t too preoccupied with organization, or rather it seemed like whoever was in here was in a panicked frenzy.

Bits and pieces of paper were torn up and thrown on the floor around other pieces of paper that simply were crumpled up and thrown off to the side.  The fully readable papers were almost thrown on the desk as though someone was trying to make sense of all of it but didn’t even know where to start.

Did Evan “organize” this?

Or was this Archie’s doing?

Or for all Meg knows, it could be someone else.

As her eyes frantically scan the documents, she picks up words like Entity, darkness, void, killers, and hunger.

She decides to pick up a small pile that lie on the corner of the desk, her heart stopping as she begins reading.

 

‘There is a force around this Estate, though I do not know quite how to explain, but it comes to me, but not just to me, it comes from within me. Soulless, ancient, eternal.  It requires sacrifices, human beings to do its bidding.  I am not strong enough, I believe.  It has yet to take me, but my son, Evan, he could be the key…”

 

“As I killed a worker today, I could have sworn I heard the whispers, the demonic deep voice of an ancient language I do not have the capability or capacity to understand.  It spoke to me briefly, instructions I could not understand, but I think I know what it wants me to do.   I think I have known all along.”

 

“This being, this entity, it promises things I cannot yet fathom in this life.   It promises ideas beyond riches, beyond eternal life, beyond knowledge.  It promises all of these and more.  I can only find out what it is once I get there, but I know I can do it.  I have to do it.”

 

“The whispers have grown louder, more intense, more ingrained within my own mind as though they have become thoughts of my own.  Although I do not know what the whispers say, I know what they want me to do.  I do not know if I am the right man, but the Entity stays like an infection, manifesting itself deeper within my blood, my bones.  It grows, slowly taking over, and yet…I don’t mind.  Instead, I welcome it.”

 

Meg scans the yellowed paper, her hands trembling so badly she can barely read the last note.  She has to find more, she needs to read more…

Flinging her hand around to grab more papers, her hand comes in contact with a small bust that decorates the desk, causing it to go crashing onto the floor with the loudest crash Meg could have ever heard.

Whether it was because it was actually loud, or if the possibilities of being caught in here amplified the sound, she didn't know.

All she knows is that time seems to stand still and everything seems to happen in slow motion.

The blood rushes from Meg's head so fast she feels faint, and while gripping the desk, she stops breathing, listening so carefully, wanting to hear the clatter of pots and pans in the kitchen so badly her head hurts.

Instead she is met with silence.

Absolute silence that makes her ears buzz.

Meg’s whole body freezes when she hears the door open.

“What are you doing in here?” Evan demands, his voice oddly clipped.  Her head snaps up to look at his.  A muscle in his cheek begins twitching in time with his hand, but unlike the last few times, his hand isn’t empty this time. 

He holds a knife that drips with blood, and with the silence around her so quiet, she can almost hear the faint drops of the blood hit the floor in time with her heartbeat that pounds in her ears.

Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

She doesn’t know what to say.  Her blood turns cold and her face burns hot with embarrassment.

She only meant to stick her head in, she didn’t mean to come all the way inside.

“I didn’t mean to come in-“

“I told you not to come in here,” Evan hisses at her, his face turning various shades of red within seconds, his mouth turned up in a cruel sneer, bearing his teeth resembling a snarl.  The pure fury that was etched on his face was unlike any other time Meg had seen him, in the Entity’s realm or not.

‘Get out get out get out.’

“Look - I know - but have you even been in here before?” Meg tries to reason with him as she takes a step back in an attempt to distance herself as her eyes dart between his twitching face and the knife he holds so firmly, his knuckles are white. He still stands in the doorway but the room seems to collapse on itself, seeming to be so much smaller than it was before. Her back hits the edge of a bookcase in the back of the room, and immediately her heart starts pounding as her mind goes into overdrive.

“It shouldn’t matter if I have ever been in here or not, I told you not to come in here and I expected you to follow that rule.  I asked you one thing..one thing!” He goes from hissing to full on yelling as his words echo across the room causing Meg’s ears to rattle.

Her knees threaten to give out beneath her as she stares at him, her eyes wide and full of panic.

“Just look at this!” she rambles, shoving the papers she found with his father’s writing on it in front of her almost as a barrier, “I think it’s about the Entity and - “

“I don’t care!” Evan roars.  “This study is off limits, as is its contents.  You can’t just listen to one single thing, can you?”

His words cut Meg and make her feel like he may as well of used the knife in his hand to hurt her.  Her chest hurts just the same.

“Look, I know I’m sorry but just listen-“

“No.”  His voice is strangely quiet now compared to how he was just a moment ago, and somehow that’s even worse.  “Get out.”

“Evan-“

“Get out!” Evan bellows as he shoots his arm towards the doorway, pointing the way for Meg.  “I have tried, but you have tested my patience for too long, get out.  You are not welcome here.”

“W-what?” Meg stutters.  She clears her throat before speaking again.  “You can’t just kick me out-“

“I can, and I just did.  You are not welcomed here and you need to leave.” 

“I-“

“You need to leave right now if you know what’s best for you,” Evan threatens, his grip tightening on the knife.

Meg swallows her tears and skirts along the edge of the room past Evan as she never takes her eyes off of him. 

“I just think you should look at the papers,” Meg affirms, a final act of defiance.  If he’s kicking her out, and she will never see him again hopefully, the least she can do is inform him of his father’s actions in all of this, if he had any.

Evan says nothing.  He doesn’t even turn to look at Meg as she walks out of the room then bolts out the front door as fast as she can.

As soon as the cold sting of the air hits her face, she runs. Pushing her heels into the dirt, she musters everything she has right now to run, run as far away as she can, her heart racing and her head pounding.  She looks back expecting to see Evan chasing behind her.

Flashes of him chasing her in the trials come to mind, his grotesque, rusty, bloody cleaver heavy in one hand, raised above his head before it comes down, splitting her back open as she lets out an agonizing scream. 

As she pictures him now though, she pictures him without his mask, and honestly she doesn’t know which is worse.

But as she looks, he isn’t chasing her, he stands at in the doorway, watching her run, but just as quickly as she looks back, he becomes a distant figure.  She runs for her life, looking ahead of her instead of back as she jumps over a huge log on the ground and off she goes.

Her blood pumps and her breathing gets faster, and although her eyes sting with tears, and her muscles begin to burn, she keeps running, pushing past branches and bushes.  They scratch at her face and arms, contributing to her already scratched up body from just two days ago when she ran out of the woods a second time.

Who knew that she would be running back in just as quickly?

Soon, she gets to the abandoned part of town, so she decides to slow down to a light jog before stopping completely and hunching over, catching her breath for just a few seconds.

Looking around, she thinks she recognizes where she is and how to get to the main part of town from here.

Although she doesn’t quite know where she wants to go, she knows she can’t stay in this part of town at least.

This is where Matt, the security guard, found her before, and she doesn’t particularly want to come face-to-face with him again in this state. 

As the adrenaline from running begins to calm down and her racing heart slows, the emotions of what just happened catch up to her.

How could Evan be so cruel? She thought she was getting somewhere with him, or at least making it so they weren’t enemies.

They most certainly weren’t friends; she never thinks she could have ever gotten that far, but with everything they shared last night, she thought last night meant something…

In her mind, she knew it wasn’t anything big, or life-changing, but she thought maybe they broke through that layer of absolute contempt to at least be civil, and then earlier today, it was clear that they could help each other at least as house mates until she could figure out where to go or what to do from here. 

The red hot hatred she would feel when she saw him wasn’t there today, and she enjoyed being able to walk beside him without feeling like she was going to explode.

She was hurt by his threats, his refusal to listen, but most of all, she was angry with herself for not just keeping her curiosity at bay for once in her life.

They could have gone in there together, maybe after they could know each other a little bit more.

But she couldn’t resist.

She shakes her head, trying not to think of mistakes, so instead, she walks, her stomach flipping and chest tightening at the fact that she is totally and utterly alone now.  She really pushed him and she crossed a line, although deep down inside she knows that those papers in the study had some meaning that they could use.

They were important, and although they sound like ramblings written by a madman, they talked about the Entity, and Evan, and rifts to go back and forth through the different realms.

There had to be some truth to them, Meg thought.  They were too precise, and had too much knowledge of the Entity for someone who has never been there.

Hell, within just the few papers she read, it contained more information than even she knew.

What did Archie MacMillan know that he kept from everyone?

Or did Evan know, and that’s why he wanted her to keep out of the study?

Thoughts fly through Meg’s mind as theory after theory comes to her almost too fast for her to keep up.

Did Evan purposely kill those people to get to the realm?

Was Archie in on it?

Or was Archie using Evan and turning him into a monster because Archie worked with the Entity?

How would a human even work with an ancient being like the Entity?

So many questions that now she thinks she will never learn the answer to, and now she has no idea where to go or what to do in a town with no money and no way of getting back to her hometown in Montana. 

She wanders, letting her feet carry her without much thought as she just tries to silence her buzzing mind.  It gets easier as she begins to hear the soft rumbling of distant cars, as well as distant chatter from people going in and out of shops.  She must be close to downtown.

Heading straight, trying to find the source of all the talking, she begins to approach a bar with soft rock music wafting out of the propped open door.  She doesn’t hear much except for the clink of glasses and a few quiet voices talking…

That is until she hears a glass shatter.  Loud, powerful voices start yelling over each other almost immediately, too jumbled her for her pick out any specific words or voices.  Tempted to peek her head in, she quickly shoves that thought aside, not wanting to draw attention to herself while tensions clearly run high inside.

Lowering her head as she passes, she hears a deep english voice of someone reminding her of David.  But that can’t be, she immediately convinces herself, that’s impossible.

“I’ll knock the livin’ daylights outta ya, ya piece of shits!”

“It’s not worth it, they’re a bunch of assholes, just come on,” a second voice all too familiar responds. 

“Fuck you!”

Meg stands stunned, her heart pounding as tears start to form in the corner of her eyes.

No, this can’t be…

A drunken David and Nea come stumbling out of the bar, leaning on one another.  David grumbles words to himself as Nea is spitting curse words towards David, along the lines of “having to clean up his mess, fucking dumbass”.  It only takes a second for them to both look over.

David’s mouth drops open as Nea speaks, practically dropping the heavy man on the concrete out of shock.

“Wait…Meg? Is that you?”

All of the tears, the pain, the absolutely raw and primal emotion burst from Meg in one sentence, one breath as she runs over and collapses into her friends’ arms.

“Yeah, it’s me.”