Dark Guardians (working title)
Posted: Monday, January 1, 2018
Word Count: 2463
Summary: When attacked one evening, Adriene discovers a whole other hidden world.
A rainy Tuesday in January was the day everything changed.
The rain beating down on the windows woke Adriene up at the ungodly hour of 4am. Groggily peering around the bedroom, she saw Eric curled up at the foot of the bed still fast asleep. Jealously prodding him with her toe through the bed sheets, he gave yelp and testily lurched out of the room in search of a more peaceful sleep spot.
Collapsing back onto the pillows, Adi shifted around and snuggled back under the covers hoping to drift back into dreams for just a little while longer. The rain beating down on the windows would normally be relaxing and sleep inducing, but this morning it was a distraction.
After tossing and turning proved to be utterly useless, Adi reluctantly gave up on sleep and padded into the kitchen. Meds taken, she then grabs a mug, and after spooning in far too much instant coffee, switched on the kettle and wandered into the living room. Collapsing on her big sofa, nearly sitting on Eric in the process, she looked around and decided that no, her mother was wrong. She definitely didn’t need any more colour in here.
Mother and daughter were about as different in personality as they were In appearance. Adi's mother was short, with cropped hazel hair and grey/green eyes. Adriene on the other hand was tall and slim with dark hair that fell just past her shoulders. Her eyes were brown, but you had to look closely to be sure they weren't actually black. No one was ever surprised when they found out that they weren't blood relatives,and that Adi was adopted.
When she bought her apartment 6 months ago, Adriene's priority when decorating her new apartment, was to create a calm and relaxing living space. Basing the design around natural, earthy tones, she filled the space with different textiles and oak pieces found online or in thrift stores. Loving the finished result, she wouldn’t change it for anyone.
Apologising to the cat for nearly crushing him, Adi retrieved her coffee and returned to the sofa, with thoughts of the coming day starting to creep around her brain. Pushing them to the back of her mind, she decided to enjoy the sunrise and the slow tide of sunshine washing across her floor.
Eventually Adi accepted that she couldn't spend the day curled up on the sofa, however wonderful that sounded. The days problems wouldn't solve themselves, and she had quite a list to get through...
45 minutes later, showered and dressed, she was out of the door and behind wheel of her car. Adriene loved her job as a Radiographer most of the time, but days like today made her question things. A week ago a patient made a complaint, and with her boss away, it was down to Adi to meet with them today and try to sort things out. Diplomacy wasn't really high on her list of personality traits, and Adi tried to avoid getting overly stressed wherever possible. She had an appointment with Dr Gerard next week and couldn't bear the possibility of having to admit she'd had another episode. So aim of the game today was to stay calm.
After striding into the department with a renewed determination, thanks to the coffee shop, Adi was immediately faced with the days most pressing challenge. Mrs Waterman was sat front and centre and looked ready for battle. Adriene suddenly wished she'd just called in sick and let her colleague Daisy deal with it.
*Alright....breath...you can do this* Adi told herself, trying to sound strong and confident.
Sat in the office, as Mrs Watermans' glare burned a whole straight through her soul, she felt anything but.
'I'm sorry for your trouble, and the problems your husband had during his appointment here...' Adi managed to get out.
God, it was hot. She was sure she must look like a beetroot........a beetroot with a sky high heart rate....!
'We were waiting here for hours to be seen. It was completely unacceptable..!' Mrs waterman fired back.
The more Adi tried to sooth the situation, the more it seemed to escalate.
*I can't do this* she thought to herself.
Desperately trying to calm down, Adi took a small sip from her water glass.
'I can only apologise for you wai..' Adi began but was interrupted before she could finish the sentence.
'An apology isn't good enough',
With panic starting to take hold Adi tried to control her breathing and closed her eyes for a few seconds.
'what's wrong with you?!' Mrs Waterman shot across the table.
Suddenly the lights in the room appeared to flicker and the air seemed to crackle with static energy.
*breath....breath....breath....* she told herself
Not able to run away this time, she had to get control of herself.
*its not real...everything is fine* Repeating the mantra that Dr Gerard had given her immediately started to settle her mind. Lights stopped flickering and the static seemed to dissipate.
'I will get my manager to write to you when she is back from her holiday, about how you would like to carry this forward'.
Adi closed the meeting and uttered a spluttering Mrs Waterman briskly out of the office.
'Thank you for meeting with me', she called, half way down the corridor already.
Wondering when she would be pulled up for that disaster of a meeting, Adi looked at her phone and was relieved to see that she could just about get away with saying it was lunch time. She needed to get away for a bit.
Walking into the cafeteria, Adriene spied a familiar face sat alone, across the room by the window. She sighed with relief, mentally thanking anyone listening.
Meeting her best friend San for lunch was a rare, and much needed, treat. So grabbing a coffee, she wove through the tables and collapsed in the chair across from her friend. A big welcoming smile spread across her friends face. This very quickly turned into a frown however.
'I had an episode earlier' Adi mumbled into her latte.
'What?!? How and why?' San asked incredulously. 'Its been ages since your last one'.
'I know. I've been able to keep a really good lid on the stress lately. I hate that I've let it happen again'
The more Adi thought about the meeting earlier, the grumpier and more depressed she got.
'You are still taking your meds aren't you?' Asked with a best friends concern.
'Of course I am. I'm not that daft. I'm seeing Dr Gerard next week so.....' She made a shrug gesture to imply that she will be discussing it this time and not ignoring it, pretending it didn't happen.
She was dreading seeing her Dr though after today, but she'd gone so long without an episode....she needed to talk it through.
Adriene absolutely hated her diagnosis , which was loosely described as low level psychosis. This came 2 years ago, after a decade of bumping from clinic to clinic once she'd finally been released from hospital. Her mother had institutionalised Adi for a year in her late teens, when the delusions had gotten too much for her to handle. This was still a very sore subject between mother and daughter, and not something she felt she could every truly forgive her for.
Looking back at her teenage years, the memories still made her feel a bit sick. The desperation she'd felt as an in-patient and how convinced she had been of her abilities and powers. When actually, the reality was much darker – an inability to cope with stress. Stressful situations gave rise to delusions and hallucinations, which seemed to warp the world around her. Eventually Adriene began accepting that her powers were in fact delusions. She wasn't a character in a fantasy story....just a sad girl with mental health problems.
But with a diagnosis, came the coping mechanisms that did actually seem to help. Mantras and breathing techniques to calm her down if she felt her blood pressure starting to climb, and the meds to keep her balanced. The last 2 years had been the best since it all it began, and she really couldn't let it all fall apart again.
The rest of the afternoon passed without incident and Adi soon found herself in the car driving to her fitness class. Adriene discovered Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) about a year ago, whilst searching for something that would help channel her stress. She loved it instantly! It made her feel strong and in control, which did wonders for her stress levels. A few bruises were a small price to pay for a clearer head.
The class tonight was much needed after today – beat Mrs Waterman out of her head.
*Everything is fine* Adi kept repeating to herself.
All afternoon, the incident had been playing round and round her head. The sense of disappointment in herself, that she'd let the stress get the better of her again, was immense.....
Pushing down the tears, that were beginning to threaten again, Adi walked into the sports centre.
She was greeted with a friendly 'hello' by the instructor and told to hurray up and get ready.
Quickly moving to the side of the room, Adi dropped off her bags, thankful to have changed at work.
The session tonight was boxing techniques, and Adi was eager to get stuck in.
Grabbing a pair of gloves, Adi strode back across the gym and joined her group at the far side.
'Tonight we are going to be practising blocks and dodges', her instructor informed them.
45 minutes later, Adi was a heaving sweaty mess, but she felt great. All of the days stresses had been (literally) beaten out of her...
'Sorry I got you in the head Adi', her partner said to her at the end.
'your face just kinda got in the way' he teased light-heartedly.
Adi dramatically eye-rolled in mock displeasure. 'screw you very much, you arse', she teased back.
'Next time, its kicks and grapples, so don't forget your sparring gear.' The instructor reminded them. 'Adi – you get to pair with me next time. Its too easy for you to round house everyone else'.
Adi was particularly good with the martial arts aspect of MMA, loving the movements, and simply just how utterly bad-ass it made her feel. Being nearly 6ft tall with a willowy and agile frame, she also had something of an advantage over the others in her group.
Laughing, she wandered back to her bags and gathered her bits together. Dreaming about a long, hot shower when she got home, Adi slowly made her way out of the front of the gym building and started back to her car. Now it was dark, she was regretting parking the car so far away. She was sure that it was at least 10 degrees colder than it was an hour ago.
Pulling her coat up higher around her neck, Adi started walking back across the car park to the main road. The cold wind was biting across her face, pulling strands of her hair out of her collar. Tucking her hair back out of the way, she walked quickly across the road and away from the gym. Rounding the corner at the end of the road, Adi became aware of steps behind her. Spying her car about 100 yards away, she upped her pace, and was just reaching for the door when an arm suddenly came from behind grabbing around her neck. She was sharply flung away from her car and thrown into a side alley.
Desperately trying to grasp her wits, and ignore the pain in her shoulder where she hit the floor, Adi tried to scrabble to her feet. Her attacker was trying to rip her bag from her, but she instinctively kept hold. The MMA training kicked in, just in time to dodge a right hook aimed at her head. Adi quickly curled her fist and swung hard for her attacker, catching him on his shoulder and spinning him away from her. He responded almost immediately with a sharp kick to her abdomen, throwing her against the wall. Winded, Adi struggled to keep her footing and chancing that someone else might be near, she tried to scream but he came at her again. He hit her hard across her face, knocking her to the ground again, but before he could reach her, the lights in the alley started to flicker. Adi could feel the static energy in her hands again, signalling another episode.
*oh god no! Not now* Adi's mind was reeling.
Two episodes in one day had never happened to her before. The thought of being locked up again was more frightening than anything else on earth.
He started towards her again, but Adi had time to quickly lurch away. She wasn't sure why, but she suddenly had felt re-energised. Taking this to be fighting survival instincts kicking in, Adi balled up her fists, the static still crackling around her fingers, and threw a punch at him as hard as could, hitting him squarely in the chest. The impact threw him backwards against the side wall, with much more force than it should have. He hit the wall with a muffled thud, and slid silently to the floor, where he lay un-moving. Adi sat on the wet, cold pavement frozen in panic.
He still wasn't moving, when Adi manage to gather enough mental energy to crawl over to him.
She wanted to just run, but something about the way he was just lying there made her check him first.
Turning him onto his back, she gave a small yelp when she saw his face. The eyes were fixed and staring, the chest was still.....
*no...* Adi thought with a sudden dread. Fumbling around his neck for a pulse, she couldn't believe what was happening.
*he cant be dead......I only hit him once......* Adi's panic hit with full force as the realisation hit her.
Suddenly a pair of headlights appeared to turn into the road, and start towards the alley.
Throwing her attacker back down into the gravel, Adi grabbed her bag and ran.....as fast as she could in the opposite direction. Not thinking about her car, where she was running, anything....except getting as far away from here as she could.
High above her, a figure in black sits silently on the rooktop. He watched the girl run away with avid interest.
*you can use the dark energies, but I don't know you* he thought puzzled.
*I'm not even sure you realise you are using them.....*
He moved to the roof edge, jumped down and quietly followed.