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Authors: Meg Winkler

Wake of Darkness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wake of Darkness

 

 

 

 

Meg Winkler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wake of Darkness

© Copyright 2012 by Meg Winkler

All rights reserved.

 

Cover design by Meg Winkler

Cover Image
©
zdenek kintr
– Fotolia.com

 

 

 

 

 

Published by The Brainy Babe Micro Pub

Visit www.thebrainybabe.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wake of Darkness

 

Meg Winkler

 

 

 

 

 

 

C’est la guerre.

That’s war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Present Day—A Small College Town in Texas

 

            Sophie didn’t speak to anyone, not so
much because she didn’t want to, but because she really didn’t
have
to. She
struggled with Herculean effort to listen to the last words of the professor
and ignore the thoughts of the guy next to her—they were familiar, faintly
disturbing, incredibly irritating—but tuning out the thoughts of others wasn’t
always the easiest thing to do. Today it was proving to be extremely difficult.
If she really concentrated though, she could block the voices out...sometimes.

 

            She debated idly if she could pound
some sense into him and smiled darkly at the thought, imagining it. She thought
about what it would be like to rip his throat out, but she wasn’t that strong.
Granted, she’d never actually
tried
to rip someone’s throat out…She
glared at him through narrowed eyes and a subtle growl from deep within her
chest found its way up to her throat.

 

            No, as much as she might like to
resort to violence, it wasn’t the answer…or so that’s what the proverbial
“they” always said. She sighed despite the boiling frustration and closed her
eyes, rubbed the sides of her head and tried to block him out, hoping it would
work. After a fruitless moment, she dropped her hands on the desk in
frustration. Today it just wasn’t working. She wondered again, as she had on so
many previous occasions, if she was alone; if anyone could truly understand what
she went through on a daily basis. Wasn’t there anyone else in the world who
could hear every single, intimate thought of those around them? More
importantly, if there were, then where
were
they?

 

            If she thought about it too long, the
other terrifying question that haunted her would creep into her mind. It was
the one she hated to ask, but the one that was the most persistent: what if
there
wasn’t
anyone who could empathize? She shook her head quickly to
chase that demonic thought away; she wouldn’t let herself go down that road
again.

 

Her classmate grinned at
her until he finally paid enough attention to her eyes for the black look in
them to register. They locked stares and he immediately looked away and shifted
nervously in his seat, avoiding her glare. She rolled her eyes and tried to
shift her attention back to the professor. When the eternal hour was finally
up, her eyes bored into the same guy, precisely at the moment he was checking
out her butt, catching him in the act, and completely off guard again. The same
growl threatened to claw its way upward, but she held herself together as she
hastened to the door, relieved to be outside before the rest of her classmates,
and away from the lewd mental comments she was being bombarded with.

 

She took in a deep,
cleansing breath and reveled in her liberation from the classroom before anyone
else. Escaping outside, she sighed in the fresh air. Sophie found her transient
peace in moments like this, just before the rest of the student body poured out
of doorways like hundreds of little ants, scrambling to get away from the
dreaded classrooms, their minds swirling freely.

 

And…here they come,
she
thought.

 

She froze where she
stood, regardless for those filing around her, closed her eyes and concentrated
on not hearing the unfiltered chaos of thoughts which swarmed around her. She
didn’t care that people had to stop short and swerve quickly in their path to
avoid hitting her—she could feel the insanely subtle movement of air around her
as her frustrated peers dodged her. Today was a bad day, and it took all she
had in her not to scream at the insanity of it all. One therapist had suggested
meditation as a means for exorcising the voices that he hadn’t really believed
were real anyway. Sophie didn’t have a mantra though.

 

Their thoughts flooded
her mind. Sophie imagined what being trapped in a whirlpool was like. She
figured it wouldn’t be much different: disorienting, chaotic, choking. Sometimes
it felt like she was drowning. She’d been crazy to think she could lead a
normal life; that she could go to school and be a typical co-ed.  

 

College was a
bad
idea,
she thought to herself for about the millionth time.

 

Taking a deep breath,
Sophie forced the useless thoughts from her brain and focused instead on her breathing,
rubbing her temples with her fingertips. Soon, she felt a tentative calm settle
over her, but part of her waited for the calm to suddenly retreat as it
invariably did; the peace was always too short.

 

She reluctantly opened her
eyes when she knew she
could
walk away from the building. She looked around.
A strange feeling crawled up her arms and burrowed itself into her brain as she
scanned her surroundings. Life had taught her to be aware of people lurking in
the shadows. She was always the first one in a crowd who knew when something
was off, when something didn’t feel quite right, but she didn’t often feel the
strange urge that she was being watched—until recently. As she experienced this
still new sensation, she knew that she wasn’t in danger…at least she didn’t
think
she was, but she definitely felt like someone was watching her.

 

And as she scanned the
façade of the buildings towering over the little courtyard in which she now
stood, Sophie was struck with the strangest feeling that maybe she didn’t
want
to go. That maybe, she wanted to run back
inside
the building she’d just
emerged from. She’d been so relieved to be out of the history building moments
ago—as always—but at the same time, she felt the imperative urge to turn back.
Without thinking, she instinctively turned back towards the structure. The
impulse was so strong that she had to consciously fight the urge that nearly
sent her back to find the source of the
itching
desire. She dreaded
facing all of the people she’d run into along the way, or rather,
hearing
all of them, and that dread inevitably won over, but just barely. She shook her
head quickly in a futile attempt to chase the nagging feeling away and
continued stubbornly on her path away from the building determined to keep her eyes
from it lest she be tempted to turn back.

 

Sophie walked along the
sidewalk out of the courtyard towards the little downtown square that was her
destination nearly every day at this time. She always liked to escape the
mental hustle and bustle for a quiet cup of coffee whenever she could. Try as
she might, Sophie couldn’t keep herself from glancing back up at the building,
looming down at her in its majestic modernity. She was certain someone was
watching her—she could feel that presence on her back. She thought that maybe,
just
maybe
, she’d seen a familiar face staring down at her from the second
floor. Through the foggy tinted windows of the retro structure, he seemed to be
someone she recognized, but she couldn’t tell precisely
why
he was so
familiar. The most unsettling part was that she couldn’t hear what he was
thinking. She couldn’t figure out why he was staring at her. The realization
made her shudder. She dragged her eyes away as quickly as possible, pulled her
sweater around her body and wished, again, that she were invisible.

 

No, I take that back,
she
thought to herself.
I wish I were somebody else.

 

She shivered. As the
chills threatened to shake her to her core, she didn’t try to figure out if it
was the weather or the man who caused the reaction. She tried to put the
thought out of her mind as she hastily walked towards the square and
concentrated again on relaxing her body and mind, refusing to think about the
man who was so familiar and whose mind was completely silent.

 

Instead, her thoughts
drifted back to the frat boy who’d been ogling her in class. If he’d only known
what she’d heard in his disgusting little brain. She laughed bitterly at the
thought as she walked along, hoping to ease the stress that tensed her body
like a violin sting. It didn’t do any good for her to be so keyed up. It was
moments like this that her temper was quicker and her emotions hotter than
usual. She inhaled the brisk, chilly air heavily, feeling it dry and sting her
throat as it helped clear her mind.

 

Today the downtown square
was bustling with art students and jocks tossing footballs on the courthouse
square. Drug-stained kids of ex-hippies played bongo drums on the corner, their
audience snapping at the end of the interpretive song. Sophie chuckled at their
beatnik mimicry.

 

It was a day like any
other in her town. The thoughts of the people here sounded much more like what
she would think the hubbub of a crowded lecture hall would sound like to a
normal person. Occasionally, something was shouted in someone’s head loud
enough for her to hear, but most of the time she was able to tune the madness
out to a dull, minimally distracting roar.

 

It was an eclectic sort
of town where old men gathered at the courthouse on Saturday mornings to play
bluegrass on the lush, green front lawn in the shadow of the archaic
Confederate soldier monument. Where the local burger joint—built from an old
filling station and garage—played host to several different types of people,
depending on the day: Friday nights belonged to local college students;
Saturday evenings to empty-nesters; and Sundays to guest musicians who took
over the make-shift patio strung with multi-colored lights made for Christmas
trees. It was the kind of town where everyone talked to everyone else walking
around the square. Geeks wandered shamelessly into the comic store, hipsters
argued outside the record shop. Everyone greeted each other with small-town
hospitality which wasn’t a relic of American antiquity here; it was an everyday
reality.

 

Her favorite coffee shop
sat on the square, on her favorite street: Pecan. She ducked into Bean There,
giggling to herself at the name once again, and ordered a tall, black coffee,
careful to concentrate on not listening to anyone’s thoughts. It was easier with
so few people around, to ignore their thoughts, but it still took a great deal
of exhausting concentration not to hear the private secrets of those around her

 

She made random eye
contact with a fellow student and his face broke out in a wide, friendly smile.
She hesitantly smiled back, seeing herself in his mind’s eye. Her shockingly
bright green eyes looked at him from her porcelain face slightly paler than
“normal”, and her auburn hair was what this man considered sexy: slightly wavy,
full, and hanging just past her shoulders. He contemplated walking up to her as
his eyes ran up down her dancer-like figure, and asking for her number, but her
quickly diverted eyes discouraged him and he soon turned to walk out of the
coffee shop. She sighed to herself as she listened to him, relieved that his
mind didn’t automatically turn to less appropriate thoughts, as was usually the
case with men who encountered her. She smiled to herself: There was hope for
men yet.

 

She paid for her coffee
and stepped reluctantly back outside to brave the chill in the air, to sit on
the little teetering heart-shaped wire chairs right outside the doors. It was
really too cold for that type of behavior, but she could be relatively alone there;
the thoughts of passing pedestrians were easily confused for vocal utterances
outdoors, and that was comforting. Of course, she knew from experience that she
could hear spoken words better than the people around her. Too many times,
she’d caught the grumbling of a professor as he muttered something under his
breath, or the sigh of an exasperated cashier from a few hundred yards away at
the grocery store.

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