Illumination

Sometimes the worst nightmares are the ones that are too bad to be anything but real life.

A normal night becomes anything but when Maria is caught off guard by a stranger in the dark. In fighting for her life she has to learn that the dark is not always something to be afraid of.

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1. Light and Dark

Laughter spilled out onto the barely lit street as Maria left the bar.

It was the end of her shift but it was only just the beginning of the night for the many patrons that frequented the establishment.

Working in the Twilight bar had so far paid off immensely as her figure and long blonde hair guaranteed a wealth of tips that far exceeded the pay she would get in any other part time job.

She pulled her coat tighter around her as the cold outside air hit her. 

The triangle of light produced by the door was soon once again trapped inside and the street was left with just  a singular lamppost and a half moon to light it. 

Maria was used to the dark winter nights that greeted her when she left work so she was not scared. She had come to somewhat like the darkness as it hid all of the world so that she could be alone with her thoughts. 

The walk went quickly and soon she approached the alley that led to her street. 

It was the only part if her journey that gave her pause, and as she always did, she thought about going the long way around but with the extra ten minute walk, it probably wasn't worth it.

She walked swiftly and constantly checked behind her but she still didn't see him as he slid along the alley wall towards her.

He grabbed her waist from behind and pulled her into him.

The shock knocked the breath and all defense out of her, she was so stunned that she almost didn't to scream. But she did.

Before the breath left her throat her capturer read her mind and clamped a gloved hand firmly over her mouth. 

Within seconds he had replaced it with a gag that choked her. A bitter taste from the rag covered her tongue and made her want to vomit.

Regaining her senses, she pushed against him, her hands scratching back at him and her heels dragging down his legs.

He didn't seem to feel a thing.

With one swift move, he spun her around and then pushed her to the ground. She fell hard and before she could react, he had a hold of her legs with one arm, his other hand feeling for something in his pocket.

A million fears of knives and guns flooded deep in Maria's  rattled mind. She kicked and scrambled but his grip was like iron and there seemed to be no escape.

His hand rose up above her, clutching the retrieved object.

The dark concealed it and in a way, Maria was thankful. It was probably better that she didn't know how she was to die. She shut her eyes and waited for it to be over.

A click broke the crashing heartbeat that seemed to engulf the alleyway.

Blinding light hit her as the torch in her assailant's grasp bloomed into life.

For a second, Maria only felt relief. She was not going to die. At least not yet. 

Then the relief vanished as the attackers true mission became apparent to her. Death was quick, her fate would last much longer and she may have to live with it for the rest of her life. That was if he didn't kill her as soon as he'd done with her.

He placed the torch between his teeth and straddled her legs to hold them as he began undoing his trousers.

No matter how she wriggled and clawed at him, she could hardly move an inch and nothing seemed to phase him.

He moved onto hers.

More than anything, she felt just so overwhelmingly ashamed. The light that blinded her showed her vulnerability and her pain was surely the most entertaining part for him. At least in the dark, she could cry and he wouldn't see her. Although she held most of her sorrow in, a tear ran down her cheek.

He laughed as he pulled aside her underpants and began to lift off her legs and shift forward.

Darkness flooded back into the alley.

He stopped, cursed and rattled the torch.

She lay motionless, still scared but somehow not as powerless, and let her eyes adjust for a moment. While he continued to work with the torch she realized that her legs were slightly looser. Quick and forceful, she drove her leg up towards where he was crouched over her.

Her knee caught his crotch and he crumpled slightly, but as before, he showed unusual resistance.

A calm settled over her and she knew exactly what she had to do.

Without much thought, she swept his legs and jumped up.

He crashed to the ground but within moments she could already hear him getting up.

Her heart raced as she turned and ran through the inky, impossible darkness. She ran the way that seemed to lead home, knowing that it was closer than any other safe haven at this time of night.

Within seconds he had her wrist in his grip, he was fast as well as strong.

She spun around to face him, her reflexes sped up a thousand times by a mix of adrenaline and something unidentifiable. She laid into him. It was as though her body didn't need her input in order to make the punches. Each landed exactly where it needed to, and although he was still resistant, her hits were impacting enough to stop him from fighting back with much force.

She didn't notice the alley lightening until she recognized the face that was creased in pain in front of her. 

He was a regular from the bar, an ex-boxer with a reputation for being handsy.

One last punch and he fell. His head knocking hard against the pavement as he hit it.

She scanned the alley, searching for the source of the sudden light. No streetlights were in sight and the sun was a few hours off  yet. 

She fell to the ground herself. Her legs could no longer hold her up. She lifted her hands to cover her face and as she did, she saw it.

The glow.

Every inch of her skin was coated with a slight glittery light. Combined, she had lit the majority of the alleyway.

Illusion and hallucination seemed to be the only explanation and she was relieved when the light faded, leaving her to sit in the dark.

Knowing she couldn't stay long, she checked his pulse - weak but still there - and began to make her way home, hoping that her night had just  been a horrible dream.

She was at the end of the alley when she finally turned back. 

About half way down, a single beam shone in the pitch black.  The light was faded but still bright enough to show the broken body of her attacker. 

Unable to face what had happened to her and what she had done, she turned back and ran as fast as she could until she reached home.

Without a sound, she opened the door and climbed the stairs to her room. She needed time to digest the events of the night herself before she could even think about telling her parents.

The only light on in the whole house was in the bathroom, and as she walked in, she felt its harsh glare on her wounds. 

Bruises and mud covered her face and body but in the mirror Maria could hardly see them. 

The only thing her eyes could focus on were themselves. 

Luminescent gold replaced the deep azure that they were used to and they seemed to brighten the already unbearable light of the room.

Staring straight at them, Maria knew that no part of what she had seen or done that night had been a dream or delusion.

Without moving or looking away, she reached her mind out to the power that surrounded her and darkness descended, leaving just two irises shining in the pitch black.

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