Hartley sat around the make shift table with Kit and Bullet sitting across from her. Justin sat beside her clutching her hand in his tightly, everyone seemed to be laughing and having fun.
Soon the lights in the room dimmed and everything in the room began to shake. Kit’s stomach begins to bleed, he turns to Hartley grabbing her arm leaving a bloody hand print “You did this to us” he wheezes before falling face first onto the table, blood pooling beneath him.
The sound of sobbing makes Hartley turn to face Bullet who was now crying “Why?” she sobs loudly before her eyes go wide, her hands fly to her neck as it snaps to the right, Bullet falls limply into the pooling blood on the table.
Hartley covers her mouth with her free hand, Justin looks at her smiling “Are you okay Blue?” he asks cheerfully but freezes as three loud shots echo in the room, he looks down to his chest as blood begins to soak his now torn t-shirt, he looks back up to Hartley frowning “It was meant to be you…”
Hartley sits up panting, her clothes soaked in her own sweat, her door bursts open revealing a very disoriented woman standing at her doorway holding a bat in her shaking hands “Hey Harts, everything okay you were screaming” the woman asks breathing heavily and eyeing around the dark room.
Hartley lets out a shaky breath “I’m fine” she assures her roommate, after finishing her look around the room the woman lowers her bat.
“Another nightmare?” she asks and Hartley nods lightly before glancing at her alarm clock ‘5:56AM’
“Trixie go back to bed, you have class later” Hartley yawns, the roommate remains before leaving “I need a shower” Hartley mutters to herself, dragging her heavy limbs towards the bathroom.
She pulls off her jacket and looks in the mirror; her once light skin now held a natural tanned colour, her fingers traced the light scars which covered her body. She closes her eyes and leans against the mirror, as she opens them she sees the reflection of Reaper behind her, his bony hand extending towards her shoulder, she turns quickly only to find herself alone.
Her heart hammered against her chest, she turns the tap on to the shower and steps in once the water had warmed allowing the burning water to run over her shaking body. She stayed in the shower for around half an hour before turning off the taps, when she looks down to the water going down the drain it appeared red, she moves her hands to the front of her face to see them dripping in blood.
Hartley quickly stepped back causing her to trip and slip out of the shower falling onto the ground, dragging the shower curtain along with her.
“You okay?” Trixie yelled from her room, Hartley grunts sitting up looking at her hands which were dripping with water, not blood.
“Yes” Hartley replies pulling herself up once again catching her reflection in the mirror, in the two years since she had left of Fifth Avenue she had changed and she didn’t think it was for the better.
Nightmares, hallucinations and voices have haunted her ever since she watched her friends be slaughtered in front of her the guilt which she lived with every day was something she knew she would never get used to.
In the kitchen, she boiled the kettle for tea, her phone buzzing on the counter but she ignores it seeing the familiar number of Doc appear on the screen. He had non-stop been calling her ever since she left but had no intention of going back into that life for any reason.
Hartley leaves a note on the bench for her roommate letting her know she would be in late tonight before walking out of the small apartment. Her now short hair was tied into a small pony-tail and her arms and legs covered in long clothes to protect herself from the harsh winter weather.
She had decided to try and live a normal life, she had a job as a checkout chick at a nearby store, she co-owned an apartment with her roommate, who was also her only friend and she even joined a gym so she could stay in shape.
Walking down the street towards work Hartley saw someone who looked identical to Justin, although he was looking down and had a hoodie covering most of his face Hartley knew he looked just like him, “Justin!” she calls out loudly, she didn’t know why but she couldn’t help herself “Jus!-” a bus passes by and when it was gone, so was he. Hartley’s heart sand and she continued her walk to work.
When Hartley had finally got to work, she was hassled by her boss for being late, again and after a harsh warning she went to work behind her counter. “How are you doing today cutie?” a thirty something year old guy winks and Hartley rolls her eyes, she didn’t know his name but this guy was a regular customer and each day he would tell her a horrible pick up line before leaving.
“Morning sir” Hartley sighs scanning the few items he had placed in front of her.
“Have I ever told you that your eyes look better than any emerald I’ve ever seen, and trust me I’ve seen plenty” he says leaning up against the counter with a smirk.
Hartley forcefully hands him his bag of groceries “Twice now sir” she fake smiles “Have a nice day” the guy rolls his eyes.
“You’ll come around one day babe, everyone falls for the Flicker one day” he says before freezing slightly “I mean-” he laughs nervously “Check you later babe” he winks before quickly running from the building.
Hartley shrugs him off before continuing on with her work, by the time her shift had finished the sun had disappeared behind the many trees covering the small town she stayed in “Bye Norton” Hartley called to her boss, he replies with a grunt and she leaves locking the doors behind her.
The streets were empty; the only light Hartley had to see where she was walking was the dim light of the street lamps hanging overhead. She looks forward to see a woman stalking towards her, the woman’s bright red hair shining in the lamps light.
Not even moving the woman barges into Hartley’s shoulder while passing “watch it” the woman hisses, Hartley stumbles back slightly and glares back to the woman only to find the streets to be empty.
She shivers, the feeling of being watched leaving Hartley feeling uneasy hurriedly she enters the broken down building beside her, the door screeches loudly as she pushes it open, the smell of stale sweat greeting her as she enters.
Hartley walks up to the front desk placing enveloped money in front of a bald and heavily tattooed guy he glances from the envelope to her and nods before his eyes go to his phone.
She walks to her locker and places her jacket and bag inside before walking into the backroom which was filled with ratty old punching bags, a creaky boxing ring and a creepy guy in the corner who claims to be ‘security’.
Hartley positions herself in front of a punching bag, she cracks her knuckles before closing her eyes and concentrating, as she opens them they flicker with a familiar red ember colour and her hair turns the same, she punches the bag with all her might, it goes flying back and as it is about to hit her she moves out of the way kicking it as she turns.
She continues to practice for about two hours and only stops as sweat began to drip from her, she moves back to her locker and grabs her towel drying herself off. Her phone buzzed in her pocket and she groans answering it.
‘Hello’ she breathes tiredly
‘Hartley’ Doc’s tired voice says ’I’ve been calling you’
‘I know’ she replies
‘I need to tell you something, please just-’ Hartley cuts him off
‘Look Doc I left Fifth Avenue and I have absolutely no interest in every coming back so please just leave me alone’ Hartley pulls the phone from her ear ending the call.
Pulling on her jacket she walks out, she waves to the guy out the front and he nods not looking up from his phone. Hartley sets off down the road on the way home, the uneasy feeling of being watched making the hair on the back of her neck stand up, she begins to pick up her pace, the sound of footsteps echoing behind her and a dark shadow in the distance following slowly behind.
Hartley begins to run, the soft patter of her shoes loud in the empty streets, when she reached her apartment she threw the door open and slammed it shut not forgetting to lock it behind her.
Her breathing was heavy and her heart was racing, she closed her eyes trying to maintain her calm not wanting to destroy her entry way “you okay Harts?” Trixie asks sloshing iced coffee around her cup.
Hartley gulps and nods raising her shaking hand to give a thumbs up “Just went for a run after work and started being chased by a dog” she chuckles, feigning confidence.
Trixie nods and steps forward stopping as she hears Hartley’s phone buzzing “Is that you ex again?” Trixie asks and Hartley looks down to her phone ‘Doc’. She presses the ignore button and returns it to her pocket.
“Yeah that’s him” Hartley shrugs before eyeing her friends strange attire. She wore a bright rainbow coloured tank top and bright blue sweat pants, her hair was short and purposefully messy and Hartley could see that she had recently dyed the new colours in it as it was now white with red, blue and orange strips through it.
Hartley yawns “I’m going to bed” Hartley begins to head down the hall but Trixie wraps her hand around Hartley’s wrist yanking her back.
“You promised me movies tonight remember” she sighs “No if’s or buts” Hartley goes to open her mouth to argue but Trixie places her hand over it before she could.
She led Hartley into the living room turning on the television “I heard there is a Ryan Golsing marathon tonight” she says smiling but that soon disappears as she listens to a news report.
‘Fourteen dead after train lines switch on main line’ the news reporter says ‘Police have said it could be another possible cyber terrorist attack’ Hartley switches the channel allowing the movie to come on screen.
“That’s so sad” Trixie sighs and Hartley nods putting her head down, true there was so much pain in the world. The girls stayed up basically all night before passing out on the couch, Hartley was only haunted by minimal faces that night but as she slept her hair continued to change from one colour to another.
The girls jumped awake as a crash echoes from the kitchen, Hartley was the first one to run towards the source with Trixie following closely behind, both girls armed with a ridiculous item for protection. Trixie held a remote and Hartley a small lamp.
Hartley ducks her head around the corner, a tall figure wearing what looked like dark jeans and a white t-shirt, she slowly moves behind the crouching person and wacks them across the head with the lamp in her hand.
A male shouts loudly “Jesus Hartley” he groans and she looks down to see Doc looking up to her.
“Doc, you jerk!” she screams and goes to hit him again but he stops it before she hits him.
He stands up placing the lamp onto the bench “Sorry about the plant” he says pointing to the now broken pot plant on the ground.
Trixie runs into the room screaming waving the remote in the air “Trixie” Hartley yells stopping her “It’s okay” she assures, Trixie stops and kind of looks from Doc to Hartley “This is Doc” she says and Trixie’s mouth opens.
“That is Doc” Trixie repeats before looking down to the broken pot plant “That was my favourite plant” she whines as she leaves the room.
Hartley returns her look to Doc “Why are you in my house?” she hisses angrily “I told you I just want to try and live a-” he cuts her off.
“You just want to try and live a normal life” he finished “Hartley it’s time to stop playing dress up. You’re not normal, we went through this last time you will never be normal so just suck it up and come back” he says, his voice hardening as he goes.
Hartley looks up at him, tears forming in her eyes “Get out of my house” she spits Doc falters slightly “Get out, now!” he glares at her slightly before storming towards the front door.
“Real smooth” Trixie says to Doc shaking her head, he glances to her before leaving. Hartley wipes the angry tears from her eyes and controls her breathing so her hair wouldn’t change from blue to red in front of Trixie. “You okay sweetie, do you need me to chase him down and kick his butt for you?”
Hartley chuckles shaking her head “I’ll be fine, I should get ready for work now” Trixie nods and moves as Hartley passes her. Once she was dressed in her ugly blue and white striped uniform shirt and large black pants she walked to work.
Today was like any other apart from the fact the flirt wasn’t there. She scanned the groceries quickly in hoping that it would make the day go by faster “Hartley we need a clean-up on aisle five” Norton calls, she smiles at him and rolls her eyes as he turns away.
She pulls up the closed sign on her register before walking to aisle five bringing the mop along with her, she freezes as she spots the back of a teenage boy standing in the aisle “Um, hello, I’m sorry this aisle is closed for now but you can come back once I’ve cleaned it” she offers.
The teen turns and Hartley’s mouth goes dry as he smirks at her “Justin” she chokes, as she reaches out to grab him he disappears, she pulls her hand back running it through her hair.
After cleaning the vomit in aisle five Hartley called it an early night and left work, the sun was down but it was still light outside thanks to the full moon making the walk home so much less terrifying.
The bar beside her works doors burst open and a tall man comes stumbling out with a younger boy barely holding him up, the man swayed and slammed into Hartley knocking her onto the ground. The boy sighed leaning down and helping her up, his hand was so cold it sent shivers down her body, Hartley offers a small smile and glances at the intoxicated man now leaning against a wall.
He winks at her and Hartley’s smile drops as she realises it’s the flirt “Yes, well” she clears her throat “Have a nice night” with that she speedily walked down the pathway.
“Hartley” a voice whispers quietly, she looks around but sees nothing surrounding her “Hartley” the voice whispers again “Hartley help me” it calls in a slightly more distressed tone “I’m stuck, Hartley, save me” she stops.
Her hair turns blue and rain starts to sprinkle from the sky “Hartley please, I’m scared” she sobs realising who the voice belongs to. “Over here” she turns to the television store only to see Kit’s little face flickering amongst the TV’s “Help me Hartley, I’m stuck” he whispered again.
She steps towards the televisions and reaches her hand pressing it against the glass blocking the largest television from her “Kit” she breathes sadly “is it really you or…” she gulps “or are you just another, another hallucination?” Kit’s face flickers to the big screen and he smiles his hand reaching out for hers but to her dismay the screen goes black.
“Who are ya talkin’ to?” a woman asks with a southern slur to her words.
Hartley turns and sees the red headed woman who bumped into her the night before “I’m fine” Hartley says wiping her tears. The woman nods before walking back down the street from where Hartley had just been, she noticed the jacket the woman wore looked to be straining against her back.
Shaking it off Hartley heads back down the road shivering at the cold weather, once home she ran straight into her roommate’s arms needing comfort so she didn’t completely break down. “Shhh, it’ll be okay” Trixie whispered as she soothes her friend. “Come on, you need to lie down” she leads Hartley to her bed and they both lay down “Just sleep, it’ll be okay”
After twenty minutes Hartley was well asleep.
A laugh echoes throughout the darkness “Do you think you’re ready for this…?” the voice whispers.
Hartley awoke the next morning to her friends overly loud snoring, she yawns and stretched out her arms before walking into the kitchen to grab a cup of tea to wake herself up. She sings a song and grabs a cup filling it with boiling water but as she turns to grab the tea bags she sees Justin standing in front of her with a cocky smirk on his gorgeous face.
He tossed a glossy red apple into the air “Hey Blue” Hartley drops her mug and it smashes on the ground beneath them “How you been?”