Alex stared out her window onto the moonlit front lawn and sighed happily. 'The moon is breathtaking tonight,' the 14-yr-old thought to herself. 'I've always believed there was something special about a full moon...' She sighed again and, upon glancing at her illumined clock, decided that 11:55 was a reasonable time to fall asleep. She laid back down on her bed and shifted positions to try and fall asleep, but something told her to glance out the window again.
She slowly opened her eyes again and glanced out, but what she saw sent a small twinge of fright up her spine. Outside her window stood the silhouette of a human, tall enough to be perhaps 14 or 15.
Alex closed her eyes quickly and tried to convince herself that she'd imagined the shadow. When she glanced back to prove her point to herself, the shadow was gone, just as she'd thought it would. She smiled weakly and sighed as she rolled over to try to fall asleep again.
She felt a hand clasp itself over her mouth and an arm around her neck in a headlock. A scream tried to escape from her lips, but it was muffled by the hand and sounded like nothing more than a squeak. She sat still in the position the arm and hand had set her until she heard soft breathing and a low-pitched voice in her ear.
"Now listen to me and listen well," it hissed. "Don't try and struggle, you'll only make this harder for both of us." Alex obeyed, trembling slightly in fear. "There's no reason to be frightened, I'm not planning on harming you. But you'll be coming with me. I'll give you exactly ten minutes to gather items of importance. Now hurry, time is of the essence."
Alex slowly slipped out of the headlock with the person's permission, stood, and glanced towards her closet, where she thought the voice had been. Only unshaped shadows danced on her walls. "Where are you?"
"Over here." Alex glanced behind her bed and spotted a human-shaped shadow perched on her windowseat.
"Great, quit moving on me, will you? What if I try to escape? I mean, if you're not going to hurt me..."
A pause insued before the reply. "I don't...wish to expose you to the consequences. Just gather your things quickly."
"What makes you think I'm so ready to come with you?" She snapped. "You're probably some psycho teen-napper, only telling me you won't hurt me!"
In better light, Alex would've seen the figure glaring at her.
"I don't know why I'm doing this..." The girl sighed and grabbed her backpack from a nearby doorknob. "Are you going to at least let me change into some clothes, since I don't have a bathroom window to climb through?"
"I trust you to hold your word. Go ahead."
Alex pulled a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt out of a drawer and went into the bathroom. While she was changing, she grabbed a good-sized pocketknife out of her bathroom cabinet and stuffed it in her pocket. 'Oy, I hope I don't haveta use this,' she thought sullenly. 'Whoever they are, they don't seem like they wanna hurt me...that's so strange...! I wonder why they're here, and why they want ME of all people...' She shrugged the thoughts from her mind, finished getting dressed, grabbed a few essentials, and slowly stepped into the darkness of her room again. The shadow had shifted locations from her windowseat to her bed's headboard much to her annoyance.
"Why do you keep moving like that?!" She snapped before she could control her tone of voice. After a moment's hesitation, she muttered, "sorry about that. I didn't mean-"
"I understand your state of mind," the shadow interrupted. It slipped down noiselessly and stood a few feet away from her. "If I was in your place, I'd be a little frightened myself," it admitted.
Alex crossed her arms proudly. "What? I'm not afraid of you, whatever you are." the last part of her sentence hung in the still silence, making the girl sound a little more sure of herself than she actually felt. She shuddered with anticipation as the shadow backed away a step.
"I'm sure you aren't. I was just saying that, if in your situation, I'd be slightly afraid. That's all."
"Oh..." she glanced at her feet sheepishly. "Well, then...what are you planning to do with me anyway?"
"I'm taking you with me, like I said."
"Where to? I mean, once I'm gone it won't be too long until my family notices-"
The shadow silenced her with an ironic laugh. "Your family won't know," it replied. Alex shook her head and continued to pack things into her backpack, but was interrupted again. "I don't reccomend bringing a lot of things, just lightweight items that may come in handy."
Alex sighed. "Fine. But before I loudly protest and wake my family, why don't you tell me where you're kidnapping me to?"
"I don't think that'd be a good idea." Alex saw a small capsule-like item emerge in the shadow's hand. "I'll show you what I meant." It threw the capsule onto the floor, filling the room with a bright green flash. Alex stumbled back, dazed from the flash, and ran into her bedroom wall. Much to her surprise, she didn't hear the resulting 'thud' she'd expected. She hesitantly hit the wall with her fist, but no sound came from her attempts.
"What the heck did you do?" She yelled.
The shadow chuckled once. "I've stopped time completely."
Alex glanced at her watch, which was still ticking, much to her surprise. "Yeah, sure. Then why is my watch still going?" She asked smugly.
"I only froze everything around us. Technically, your watch is part of you, since you're touching it right now."
"...oh." The girl shook her head in disbelief. "No way...that's weird!"
The shadow approached its captive. "Now, I hate to have to do this, but it's necessary," it said apologetically. "I'm sorry." In one liquid move, its hand flew into the air and came back down upon Alex's head. The blow sent lightning bolts of bright colors to her eyes, then faded into darkness as she passed out...
A splitting headache woke Alex from her unconscious state. She opened her eyes groggily, but quickly shut them again to keep the blinding sunlight from making her headache worse. A whimpering moan escaped her and she opened her eyes again with much reluctancy.
Alex now noticed that she was in a shady clearing inside a dense forest; the sun shone through the leaves, causing scattered shadows all around her. Another surprise was that her clothes had changed as well: her tee-shirt and shorts had become a green tunic and matching leggings; her tennis shoes were now tan calf-high boots; but her baseball cap had remained the same, although it lay on the ground beside her.
After a moment she rolled over onto her stomach, sighed tiredly, and with as much strength as she could muster braced herself into a push-up position. Her right arm gave out, however, and she fell onto the ground, back where she'd started. She sighed again and remained still a few moments before trying again, but met the same results as before.
The sudden sound of laughter rang out from behind and startled her, giving her an adrenaline rush and enough strength to reach her desired sitting position. A teenage boy, appearing to be about 15 years old, stood leaning against a nearby tree, laughing at her expense. He brushed a strand of his neck-length ebony hair away from his crystal blue eyes that sparkled and danced with a sense of merriment. Alex frowned and refused to meet his gaze.
"I don't see what's so funny," she growled, her face flushing an embarassed shade of red.
The boy laughed again. "You are," he replied simply. Alex's eyes widened as the feeling of deja vu came over her.
She stared up at the boy curiously. "You...you were...that shadow, weren't you?"
"I could lie and say I wasn't," He admitted lightly.
"Who are you? Why did you kidnap me here? Where..." Alex trailed off as she realized how angry her tone sounded. "Uh...Sorry again. I, eh, sometimes kinda... lose it," she stuttered hurredly.
"I understand," the boy said. "My name is Alastair. I've brought you here to help with a quest-"
Alex interrupted. "Hey, just a sec. Are you from Earth, or from...wherever we are now? Are we even ON Earth anymore?"
Alastair sighed perturbedly. "Let me finish, if you please!" Alex silenced very quickly. "Thank you. Yes, I'm from Earth (like you), but we are not on Earth anymore. The place we are is called Adan-gwann, or "Man's Departure". It's sort of a parallel universe, in a sense, but not presicely. There are no duplications from Earth in any sense, except for the fact that some humans still exist here."
"Wait," the girl said quietly. "I thought you said this place was "Man's Departure"... but there are still humans here? Where are they?"
"I don't know, they must be scattered around in various places."
"One more question. How do you know about all this, if you're not from here? And how did you get here?"
"Well...I was, um, brought here." He suddenly smirked at her. "And that was two questions, not one."
Alex cocked an eyebrow, ignoring his smug comment. "...brought here? By whom, or what? And why was I dragged along for this whole episode?"
"I'm not exactly sure WHO brought me here," Alastair said slowly. "I know that there is an evil force -the Rauhûn- who have taken over the land and enslaved all men." He shook his head and sighed as he continued thinking aloud. "Their strength is like a monster's, but their appearance is humanoid! It's incredible to think that anyone could ever think they could stand a chance in hand-to-hand combat...I've honestly never seen anything like them!"
"Eh..hello? Alastair, this is Ground Control, you are clear to land in Reality Airport, please respond..." Alex waved her hand in front of her compainion's eyes, bringing his train of thought to an abrupt stop. "Are you alright?"
Alastair nodded. "Mmm, I'm fine." Suddenly, he glanced into the forest behind him intensely, as if anticipating something. "Wait here," he ordered as he walked out of the clearing and disappeared into the woods before Alex's eyes. She rose to her feet quickly as a strong consternation gripped her, and she ran into the woods after him.
"Alastair, come back!" She called, racing madly through the woods. A sudden jerk backwards from an unseen hand knocked her backwards onto her rear with an exclamation of fear. The hand covered her mouth so that the cry wasn't heard.
A half-angry sigh came from behind. "How can I get you to be quiet?" Alastair's voice asked in a hushed whisper.
Alex shook the hand from her mouth. "Yuck, that's nasty...maybe if you don't run off on me like that, I wouldn't have to follow you and make sure you stay out of trouble!"
The boy laughed. "You? Making sure *I* don't get into trouble?"
"What?" Alex stood to face her companion haughtily. "Are you saying I can't take care of myself?"
Alastair exaggeratedly rolled his eyes. "I'm sure you could, if you were at home instead of out in the wild of Adan-gwann. There are dangerous things out here, and without the proper equipment, you're just an indignant sitting duck." He drew a sword from a scabbard at his side and handed it to her, hilt-first. "Take this, you'll need it for our journey."
Alex stared at the sword a moment before taking it. "Whoa, back up there, Sparky. What 'journey'?"
"What was I just telling you a few minutes ago?"
"The, um...Rau-things had taken over?"
"Precisely. Now, it's our job to rid Adan-gwann from the likes of them! Got it now?"
The girl shook her head. "Why can't we just leave them in charge? I'm sure it'll be alright if we, say, return me back HOME, maybe?"
Alastair's eyes flared with a fire of revenge. "You haven't seen what these Rauhûn do to the human race, have you?" Alex shook her head. "They tie down men and women individually, kill their children before their eyes, strip them of almost all their clothing, and beat them until they die. If they don't die from their whippings, then the Rauhûn take some sort of pleasure in dismembering their victims, body part by body part." He paused after seeing the distrought look on Alex's face. "That's why we have to kill every single demonic creature, be it an Rauhûn or one of their followers."
"When did you see this? How do you know?"
The boy hesitated, glancing about. "We can't talk here - I sense something nearby."
It was Alex's turn to roll her eyes. "What the heck are you talking about?"
Alastair's eyes searched the area hurredly. "You mean you can't feel it? Close your eyes and focus on everything around you." Alex did as she was told, and soon felt a small twinge crawl up her spine. She gasped.
"Let's get outta here," she whispered, eyes wide. Alastair only nodded and led the way.