A haunting darkness hovered above the streets of London. Bleak shadows crept over damp cobblestones and Graham could hear slow and menacing footfalls off in the distance. Where in the world had Aisha sent him? And why in the world did he agree to go?
He walked the streets alone. Lost and unsure how he ended up in that dreary neighborhood where rats roamed free and beggars with rotting teeth huddled next to piles of burning trash. The beggars hissed at him as he passed by.
“You’re in the wrong place now, then, ain’t ya?” an old hag asked as she clawed at him with unusually long fingernails caked with dirt.
“Aye there, pre’y boy. I’ll be a good shag for ya!” another hag exclaimed. She was sprawled out on a stained mattress that reeked of rotten fish and urine. She patted the mattress and gray dust spread into the black air. She smiled to reveal one chipped, yellow tooth that was clinging to her purple gums for dear life.
“I feel be’er than I look, I assure ya!” she cried. “Come gimme a rump. It’ll only cost you a life time.”
Then she released a harsh shriek of laughter into the musty air and the rats scurried away into the shadows. Graham jumped as he heard a crash from out of the darkness.
“That be the backstabber for sure!” the mattress hag howled. “The backstabber’s comin’ for ya, now boyyo!”
“What?” Graham asked. “Who is the backstabber?”
And then he felt the wind separate right next to his face and he heard a whistle. Someone had thrown something at him from within the shadows. He walked quickly to where the object landed and saw that it was a twelve-inch blade with a diamond encrusted handle. The blade stuck halfway out of the cobblestone; it was still whipping back and forth, displaying the sheer force from which it was thrown.
“Backstabber’s toyin’ with ya, she is! Be’er make a run for it!”
Another blade flew out of the darkness and drilled deep into the back of Graham’s thigh. He screamed as the hags bounced up and down with glee. Then he jetted down a dark alley away from the shrieking hags and hopefully away from the deadly blades. He couldn’t see them, but he knew that they were still flying past his head. He moved his legs as fast as he could but the cobblestones turned to mire around his feet. It seemed as if the alley had no outlet and no end. It was an infinite tube of darkness that swallowed him.
Exhausted, he collapsed into a pit of sludge. His leg throbbed. His heart pounded. He tried to crawl out of the muck but then he felt a presence behind him, cold and sinister. It called out his name.
It called out his name again softly.
He was confused because the cold and sinister presence sounded just like his fiancée.
James Fant is an author of inspirational romance and suspense. He lives in South Carolina, where the mountains and the beaches have befriended him. His books include:
An Ode for Orchids
Close the Door
The Secret Branch
The Mended Fence