Later in the evening, an eerie calm fell over the streets of New York City. It was just after 10 P.M. on a Wednesday night and the streets were as quiet as a tomb. Skylar, just off her shift headed home in absolute silence. Not a car, nor person, nor animal seemed to cross her path. Her mind drifts to the mysterious stranger whom claimed he’d return with offers to help her.
“Why would I need help?” She questions herself. “Why would I want to fight back?” The Zealot Organization began long before she was born and would most likely be around long after she passes. She spent long sleepless nights expecting a knock on the door with an arrest warrant for her use of illegal hormones. Many of her friends were long gone—vanished into the night as if they never existed. Why was she so lucky?
For brief moments in her life she imagined she was special. Many believe they are unique until the realization most eventually understand—one person cannot change the world. It’s that same attitude which brings down societies, halts progress, and allows enemies to thrive in our own backyards.
Skylar knew this to be true better than anyone as she watched her own father abuse her mother relentlessly night after night. Her shame over her identity, leaving her mother to suffer, and never lifting a finger to assist will always be there. “Trust no one.” Her motto has kept her safe, and she would not alter it for some well-dressed man in a fedora. No matter how cool it looked!
With two blocks to go, a feeling of dread washed over Skylar. Perhaps it was too quiet. Little did she know; a group of men were converging on her position. She was finally the target in the Zealots cross hairs after years of false safety. Her contact with the gentlemen was more than significant in a grand design spanning a few decades. They sprinted with purpose, guns drawn, ordered to kill anyone or anything in their path.
Skylar hears thunderous footsteps mashing into the pavement from half a block away. Her eyes roll to the right trying to catch a glimpse in her periphery. A burning sensation in the pit of her stomach sends signals of caution to her wearied mind. Adrenaline kicks in and she turns a leisurely walk into an all-out race. There could only be one winner she surmises, and the loser would likely pay with their life.
She turns a corner, thankful she wore sneakers on this day, dashes into an alley in the opposite direction of her apartment. Skylar practiced for this moment many times; she knew every back alley, crevice, and deep corner where she could hide along her path home. In the dark alley she dips under a dumpster, with a full view of the street. She watches as the stampede of feet nears the alley. Her poor heart didn’t know the difference and kept racing causing her to tremble.
The footsteps slow to a walk, high-pitched voices follow. Skylar’s eyebrows twist in a virtual knot as she listens intently.
“Oh my god! I just beat you! YES!”
“Did too. Suck it, Benny! Suck it.”
Children. A raucous bunch playing in the night. Skylar rests her cheek on the cold pavement underneath the dumpster exhaling a deep sigh of relief. WHEW. In her mind, she wonders how she let that kooky well-dressed customer freak her out. Her cheekbones lift as she wiggles her way out from under that dirty dumpster. She dusts off her uniform understanding she need to do a load of laundry tonight to make up for this blunder. A hand grips her shoulder tightly, her heart rings like an alarm clock bell as she spins around. She tries to scream, but another hand pushes against her lips cupping her entire mouth.
“You’re in trouble. Just listen, calm down.”
“Mmmmmmmmm!” It was doubtful anyone heard Skylar’s muffled scream. Her eyes fixate on the assailant. It was him. Dressed in the same suit, and fedora as earlier in the day. He grabs a hold of her and spins her around with one hand on her mouth and an arm draped around her chest.
“Stop resisting. I’m not going to hurt you. I promise,” He whispers calmly in her ear.
She lifts her foot and jams it down on his poor instep. The man grunts but doesn’t release the vice grip he has on her.
“Please. Just listen for a moment. The Zealots are coming for you now. I don’t know how you knew to dip into this alley, but the time has come. We can wait no longer. Your friend Jagger is compromised and has given them every detail about you. You’re blindly trusting the wrong people.”
“Mmm M mmmmm mmmmm mmm,” she mutters. He releases his hand from her mouth carefully.
“What?” He asks.
“And I should trust you?” She repeats.
“Yes. How did you know to dip into this alley?”
“I heard footsteps. It was just children. What do you want with me?” She cries, tears welling from her eyes.
“I want our future back. The answers will come. This will pinch a bit, but don’t worry.”
The man pulls a small syringe gun from his inner pocket, places it bluntly against her exposed upper arm, and pulls the trigger without a thought.
“OUCH!” She shrieks. “What did you do to me? What the fuck? What was that?”
“I don’t feel so good. You’re here to kill me aren’t you?” Skylar whimpers as she drops to her knees. The alleyway spins in wild circles, her vision comes and goes. The woman views the world like pictures from a camera held up on a roller coaster.
“I’m here to watch you reborn. Renewed. Restored. I here to save you. Us. Everyone.”
“Kiss my…” Skylar drops to the concrete laying there lifeless, in the evening, on a Wednesday night, in a back alley, just after 10 PM.