Prologue/Chapter One - The Desert at Dusk
Night comes fast this time of year. When the crickets start to chirp and the squirrels snuggle into their tails, the creatures of the dark make their appearance.
Right at the turn of dusk, the coyotes are the first to announce their presence with a chorus of otherworldly yips and howls, warning the smaller desert animals of the hunt, and awakening the burrowing owl who shuffles out of his cactus nest. After yawning and stretching his wings, he hoots and takes flight to catch that night’s meal and the prey has one more predator to worry about. As the last of the sun slips past the horizon, the stars are hung in the sky, one by one, like sparkling diamonds.
The red fox quietly slips out of her underground den at the first call of the coyote. She dodges among the Saguaro cacti, wholly unnoticed by all of the desert inhabitants. Every night she hunts the small birds and mice to feed her family, but seldom does she catch any bigger prey, because they are hard to catch alone.
Every night, I also go out at the first call of the coyote to wander among the cacti and desert flowers. And every night, even amongst the raw beauty of the landscape, I long to be back home, in the city. Back home, where cars are constantly whirring past and where the skyscrapers touch the clouds in the sky. Where I felt safe and happy, living with my parents in our spacious apartment. We were content, and to us, there wasn’t a worry in the world.
I had been a carefree child, and my only concerns were my family and my friends. I never worried about the state of the city or the growing numbers of poverty and crime. I didn’t know of the growing numbers of patients in the hospitals or the depleting sums in the city treasury. I didn’t notice the buildings and streets going unrepaired, or the lines of unemployed citizens.
But I don’t long to be back during those cold nights when I had to fend for myself and my wits were my only source of survival. When I had such a fierce mindset, such a thirst for revenge. When all I did was pick up my bow, draw the electrified arrow back against the string and aim for that dark figure. I still feel the same dread as I did when I heard the electric pulse of the arrow discharging from the bow.
In all my dreams, I relive that moment a thousand times over. I always tell myself not to do it, not to let go of the arrow. But every time, the arrow whizzes through the air, straight at its target. I always wake up shaking, silent tears running down my face, my guilt eating me up from the inside. I don’t know if he is still alive or not, whether my arrow that pierced him right in the back killed him immediately or let him die a slow agonizing death.
I relived that moment night after night until the point that sleeping in the dark is too painful for me. That’s why I walk among the cacti and desert flowers at dusk, to remember him and pray to God to forgive me. But I never feel any healing or peace. All I can think about is that I, Alexandra Emmanuel, killed the only person left in Gotham City who cared about me.
Thanks for reading the first chapter of Solitaire, guys! Stay with me till chapter two, when the action and mystery begin! (I'll tag you when it comes out if you comment below!)