Blake set a couple of fruits in a fridge drawer, then grabbed some cans from a plastic bag on the counter and set them in a nearby cupboard, and placed a small loaf of bread on the counter. It felt as though he were on some kind of auto-pilot, only able to put away a couple of groceries because he had nothing else to do.
This is torture, he thought to himself when his mind began to wander. He was frustrated with having to stay home and do nothing, and equally frustrated when he'd been told a week ago that anybody currently isolated in quarantine could not be visited. He wanted to visit his mom, and June. But the only hospital in town was already at capacity and nobody wanted to risk anybody else.
All the schools in Jordan Heights cancelled classes days ago, businesses had closed down, and even the churches were hesitant at letting patrons in. Kids no longer screamed and played in the parks, and Blake could not go anywhere or do anything but worry and pace in his own home. He got occasional updates from June's dad on the other side of the door, and sometimes a few groceries....but still he heard nothing new about June or his mother.
Blake walked to the living room, tired of sifting through cans and dry goods. Then he paced. And paced. And paced. He could feel himself stomping on the carpet a little, enough that the soles of his feet became a little sore. He marched back and forth around the living room and around the still-cracked coffee table. His legs could barely keep him standing and walking around. He desperately needed rest, but he refused to sit or lay down much as he needed it.
His senses remained on high alert for anything and everything. As well as they could work anyways.
A tingle ran up his spine, and in a moment's notice he ran towards the corner by the hallway, took the scythe in hand, and held it in front of himself for defense. The uncomfortable prickle radiated around his neck and lingered for a few moments. Slowly the sensation subsided, though it did not disappear completely. He relaxed a little but would not set down his weapon. He thought he felt something else on his back, but he couldn't quite tell.
Blake barely moved a muscle, for how long he did not know. After a time what felt like a season, he lowered the scythe a little, set it back down near the hallway, and paced slowly around the living room once again.
Another tingle crawled up his back, but this time he tried to logic it out. Was it that older lady from several days ago? She'd disappeared when the Shadows attacked and he had not seen her since. Maybe it was another Shadow? One that talked? Or just a simple dark creature with base instinct like the ones he was unfortunately getting used to.
Then again....it could be absolutely nothing. He'd had enough false warnings in the last week that it was difficult to figure out anything. And right now he could not focus enough to tell the difference.
He walked towards his bedroom instead, and peeked inside. Nothing but a space enveloped in darkness caused by closed curtains. The bed sheets were practically ripped off the bed but the rest of the room seemed ordinary and empty, and eventually he lost interest and walked away.
Blake stopped in front of his mother's room however, and his thought process turned much more pensive. Alisha had not stood or rested in this room for days, and a thin layer of dust had appeared on her dresser. On the nightstand, two pills on a small plate lay, untouched. Blake could feel the frustration bubble from within. More than anything though......he felt regretful.
It was in her room. I don't know what's going on with the spirits anymore. And the town is now.......I should have told her.
Fact of the matter was that he hadn't the slightest clue if she was sick, or just in quarantine....maybe she was dying and he wouldn't know.....
Blake's fingers tingled with unease, and it wasn't long before he realized his heart rate quickened. His vision grew fuzzy as his head lost its focus, feeling unnerved by the stormy thoughts churning in his mind. His lifted his hand and grasped his hair, unable to process anything as he halfheartedly walked down the hall towards the kitchen.
The appearance of two figures at the wall of the kitchen startled him so much he jumped and reached for his chest. The figures also twitched a little as though surprised.
"Sorry, sorry," Blake gasped. "I wasn't expecting you."
He couldn't believe he had not sensed not just one, but two spirits here. His fixation on the Shadows must have dulled the rest of his focus. But that did not matter; the spirits were here now, and something about these two felt different. He remembered the two men by the park bathroom, and the residual flow between them. But he did quite not sense that same flow in this moment.
"Do you two....know each other, by any chance?"
Both individuals looked at one another, and Blake felt the presence of their auras emit waves of uncertainty.
"And you both somehow found your way here...great."
One of the spirits, a young teen he guessed, turned away. The other, a girl probably a few years older, crossed her arms and he felt the tiniest bit of irritation bubble in his chest.
"Look I'm sorry, I'm sorry. There's been a lot else to deal with lately. I can't help for long, you could be in danger. Where are you from?"
Images flashed in his mind as both spirits responded to his question simultaneously. One vision after another, Blake found it difficult to differentiate which belonged who. Bedrooms, bathrooms, families, backyards...this information was quite useless to him in this way.
"Too specific, more generalized!"
The visions still flashed about, but now he saw hills and bushes and shops. The younger female stepped forward and the images came to him even faster. He could barely make out the blurs of places as the spirits tried to help him out, maybe a little too much. Friends, a forest, picnic tables and an antique shop and-
The images stopped flashing in his head, allowing Blake to pause momentarily and process just to make sure. Then he asked, "Which one of you showed me a church?"
The younger of the spirits emanated confusion, but the energy surrounding the teen grew in intensity. She imagined the building again, and this time Blake saw the church more clearly. His eyes widened the longer the vision festered in his head.
"You...you live here too?"
At first she seemed confused, even as she approached Blake. He still did not recognize her, but after a few seconds of deadened silence a new wave of emotion overtook her. Initially it was a sense of familiarity that was replaced with an uneasy shock that even froze Blake in his place for a moment.
A raging burn suddenly overcame his back with an almost painful and intense heat, and Blake spun around in a moment's notice with the scythe protectively before him, and by proxy the spectres behind him.
"Go!" he yelled to the teen. "This is Olive Street; find the church from here, and fast! Stay there, and I can promise you family will be there in due time!"
She hesitated, though eh felt every muscle in his body itching to move.
His words finally reached her, and without looking he could sense her energy fade, moving in the direction opposite of where he was sure Shadows approached from. In a brief instant Blake glanced back at the young girl; she remained, and a fearful chill overcame his body just as it had hers.
"Crap...I don't know where you're from." Blake stepped forward and looking around. Subsequently, he ordered, "Stay right behind me at all times."
A weight faint and strangely heavy at the same time came over his back as the spirit leaned so close to him he could feel her aura pressed against his very skin. Still, he could sense a fighting spirit within her despite her apparent fear, which led to him relaxing a little. Blake stepped forward and peeked into the hallway with caution.
A dog-sized Shadows leapt at him and snapped its jaws, but he jumped back just a moment before they could grasp his arm. The creature skidded on the kitchen linoleum but Blake was faster. He lifted the scythe and pulled down hard. He only managed to sever a small part of one of its legs, but even so the dark monster yelped and scuttled off down the hallway.
Blake pulled the scythe up and out; a large gash remained in the tile now, and he cursed silently at himself for being so reckless. The burning did not go away however, and he silently told himself to remain alert.
For now the kitchen felt safe. With the scythe held defensively in front of him, Blake again peeked into the hallway. Nothing attacked him this time around so he felt fit to walk further. Barely two cautious steps later he halted and lifted the blade. Something else was close, but not in front of him. His collective senses told him to look in his own room, and so he prepared himself for another attack. He lowered the blade into the open door frame and his head followed soon after. All he saw there was darkness. Blake leaned forward a little more.
A nearby screech caught him by complete surprise. He swiveled his head in the direction of his mother's room just as a large Shadow charged towards him. Blake pushed out the scythe in the same moment the dark creature pinned him against the wall. Only then did he realize this creature stood taller than him, maybe stronger too. With a humanoid appearance and grip on the scythe's staff, the Shadow could quite easily keep him from escaping his current position. Its silver eyes glared right at him as the creature pushed harder on him. Both of Blake's shoulder bumped the wall, and Blake winced with pain as the pressure on his left shoulder sent a stabbing sensation across his entire arm.
For a split second he spotted movement in the corner of his eye. The young female spirit radiated a terror that nearly extinguished the strong will she'd given off earlier.
"Go, get out of here!"
Out of fear or a mindless panic, the young ghost bolted for the front door, phasing right through the wall.
When Blake looked back at the Shadow, its eyes bore right into his. He felt unusual emotions come off this creature, and was immediately taken aback when it emanated a kind of interest or fascination...especially once it turned its gaze onto the front door. It let out a low but long-winded hiss, and without warning the discomfort running along his back grew in intensity, and pain. Now, however, he focused more on the anger building up from within.
"You leave her alone!" The Shadow twitched but could not react in time to Blake pushing back with all his might. Thrown off balance, the gaseous creature stepped sideways, but it failed to leap away fast enough as a curved blade swung towards it. Its form was not severed apart, however the gash in its chest and abdomen was large enough that it could barely stand. His opening available, Blake pulled the scythe up and across, the blade decapitating the Shadow in an instant. With that the creature's body felt limp onto the floor and began disintegrating, its presence emanating contempt until the very last speck of its form vanished.
Blake shook his head not a moment later, disbelieved and unsure as to how he did that so fast. But not now; he had other pressing matters to worry about. He ran for but halted at the front door, touching the doorknob with hesitation. His heart raced, and after one last wince he relented.
He pulled the door shut behind him with a loud slam. Blake scanned beyond the front yard and the street, eyes peeled for any dark wisps-
Blake chased after the Shadows as they raced down the sidewalk and across the street; they headed in the direction of the neighborhood center and downtown. His knees wanted to buckle, his chest struggled for air, and a slight dizziness had overcome his head. Even so, he ran as fast as he possibly could, sprinting to keep up with the creatures, pushed only by his determination to protect the young spirit.
The longer he traveled, the more baffled he grew. Where was the young girl going? He saw her faint outline up ahead, far enough in front of the Shadows that they did not pose too much of a threat. But if she lost her balance at all, or if they circled around to trap her.....he could not let that happen. From back here he could fell her terror still, like a constant and unbreakable wave. He had to reach her before they did.
The girl turned a corner, with the Shadows following suite, and Blake doing the same. Then another turn, and another. That's when he observed a large building in the distance, overlooking the throng of small neighborhood homes. One of the town's churches, a very small one that barely seated 40 or so people. He and his mother did not often come here for services, but he knew of it.
It wasn't long before Blake watched the girl head towards the little graveyard just behind the church. One of the Shadows closed in on her with snarling jaws.
With one last push he bolted forward in a massive boost of speed, and within seconds he reached the rear of the shadowy pack. The creature at the back yipped soon as it turned its head, and Blake swung the scythe with a little effort on his part. He miscalculated however; only the staff portion actually hit the creature. But at least it was caught off-balance and its hunt halted.
When he looked forward again Blake skidded to a halt. His body didn't touch the outside corner of the church, but he stood dangerously close to the tall windows of the little building. Carefully as he could, Blake peeked into the corner of the stained glass.
There were actually people present inside, about a dozen or so. They seemed to be in the middle of a prayer with their lowered chins and tense shoulders. but none could see him from their current vantage points, so he crept ever so slowly alongside the wall. But soon as he did, he realized he saw no sign of either the shadow pack......or the girl they had been chasing. Blake was immediately sent into a panic.
Where did they go?