Gracelyn Adams just thought she was depressed. After months of feeling blue, losing her friends one by one, she is at her wits end dealing with the nonstop soul crushing despair she feels every day, though she knows there is nothing at all to feel sad about. Her job is going well, her life is on track, but things go from bad to worse when she begins having ‘episodes’ at night.
Then he shows up. Inside her bedroom, on the upper floor of her locked high rise apartment. Has Gracelyn gone completely off the deep end? Or does this stranger hold all the answers to unlock this prison of sadness she’s been living in?
I don’t remember falling asleep, I must have though… that or I must have completely come off the rails, gone off the deep end, because as I lay there crying to myself I dreamed the most real dream.
A puddle of blackness was on my bedroom floor between my dresser and the closet. It wasn’t right though, the moon and city light that streamed through my bedroom curtains was clearly illuminating the cream colored carpet, and there was nothing obstructing he light to cause such an irregular shadow in that spot. Yet the pool of darkness was too dark to be a shadow and it appeared liquid and alive which didn’t make sense.
The irregular darkness swirled, lifting and curling back in on its self at the edges, fluid like smoke but not, more like what would happen if you dropped black ink into a clear glass of water. It roiled from underneath, bulging at its center before drawing down and away from a crown of snow white hair, peeling down off the long straight strands as if they were abhorrent to touch.
The darkness continued rolling down the emerging figure of a man, a tall man, clad in very black, very thick, scale mail armor. His wide shoulders were made mammoth by the terrifying black metal pauldrons that sat heavily on them. The hilt of a sword rode over his shoulder as he continued to rise out of the dark. He wore greaves on his legs, both thigh and shin, and solid boots. A helmet was tucked under one arm, a round shield rode on the other.
What bothered me, you know, other than having a giant of a strange man with long, straight white hair and equally white skin, bedecked in black armor in my bedroom… was his eyes. They glowed a monstrous red the color of blood rubies, and I’m not talking just the iris’, the were wall to wall bright glowing red, whites, iris’, pupils all swallowed in rich, red, drowning, fiery blood.
What the hell was my subconscious trying to tell me?
He stepped free of the pool of darkness on my floor and set his helmet on my dresser, watching me with those terrifying eyes as tears tracked down my face, he unfastened the large buckle at his chest that held his sword to his back, carefully laying the giant blade lovingly on the carpet along the length of my antique dresser. He leaned his round black shield beside it.
He straightened and pulled gauntlets from his hands, deliberately laying them beside his helmet. I sat up when he started pulling at the straps and buckles holding his pauldrons in place. As he deliberately worked his armor off in an ever growing pile his gaze never wavered from me. I felt panic swell in my breast and I began to silently will myself to wake up.
This wasn’t real, this couldn’t be real, but with every creak of leather, click of buckle, and rattle of scale I was growing increasingly concerned that my sanity had fled and that I perhaps wasn’t asleep, but awake and hallucinating.
He worked off his greaves one leg at a time, and shucked out of his scale mail with a loud rattle. I pushed myself back into the corner where my bed met the wall and hugged my knees.
“This isn’t real, this can’t be real, wake up Gracelyn, wake up!” I had abandoned all pretense that I was asleep and dreaming and was pretty certain I had just lost my mind completely.
The man put a hand out and approached me, his bare feet a whiter shade of pale against my cream carpet. He wore black leather pants and a billowing black linen shirt. I squeezed my eyes shut forcing pent up tears to slide down my cheeks and forced my eyes to open, fully expecting him to be gone, but nope, he was just that much closer.
“Shhhh…” he soothed and gripped with terror I tried to push my way back through the wall. The bed dipped where he placed his knee on the edge and allowed it to take his weight.
“Who are you? What’s happening to me?” I wailed and put my hands over my face. The bed moved beneath me and strong arms pulled me against a granite chest. I sobbed. Oh my God he was going to rape me, only in New York City could you be attacked in your apartment by a Lord of the Rings fanboi decked out in full armor!
“Shhhhh Gracelyn, shhhh, you’re safe now.” I jerked in his hold.
Safe? Safe!? How did this classify as safe!? How did he know my name?
“Who are you?” I demanded, remaining stiff within his embrace.
“I am Alrekr Hakon Frithjof and I am here to protect you from yourself and the beings who wish you harm,” he murmured, against my hair. I sucked in a breath, the tang of burning metal came off of him, an acrid smell, sharp but not unpleasant.
“I, I don’t understand.” I stammered and his chest rose and fell in a sigh beneath my temple and cheek. I slowly lowered my hands which shook from my face and he took one of them in his large hands and pressed it flat to his chest beside my face.
“Sleep Gracelyn.” He commanded and the rumble of his voice beneath my ear made me gasp.
“I don’t understand…” I repeated, “Who are you?”
He sighed and gave a slightly exasperated growl, I flinched and his hold tightened on me.
“I told you, I am Alrekr Hakon Frithjof, and you will understand in time… right now, rest. I will stay here as long as you need me to.” It should have creeped me out with a creep factor twelve on a scale of one to ten but I can’t explain why it didn’t. I lay stiff in his arms and struggled to pronounce his name, he chuckled and I startled.
“Your modern pronunciation would be Alaric, use that if you prefer.”
“Alaric.” I whispered, and I swear the sigh that emanated from the giant in my bed was of contentment.
Text Copyright © 2014 A.J. Downey
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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