The Key of Chaos

Dark forces are awakening, and all the myths are about to become harsh reality. Altars hidden in plain sight, maps to only be found through the grace of a God, and a lost key that holds the knowledge to make or break everything the ever was or will be. Chaos is coming and Carter is the one who has to get in its way.

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3. Chapter One

It was cold when I left the flat, the chill in the air nipping at any exposed skin it could find and my breath hanging in front of me from the moment it left my lungs. The cold had always been preferable to the heat for me and the fog that wound around my ankles like a cat that desperately wanted attention was my favourite type of weather.

 

Despite how much I loved them, autumn mornings where the sun had only just started to rise did breach the severity of cold that I was comfortable with so I roughly tugged my beanie further on my head to try to keep my ears warm and pulled my coat closer to my body.

 

            As I walked along the street that would take me to the bus stop, my footsteps began to mingle into other early morning sounds. A muffled argument from the bottom floor of the block of flats just ahead, the occasional car driving down the street (either going way too fast or sounding as though it was going to fall apart any second), and of course the pounding bass of some song from a party that just refused to die, despite it being just past five in the morning.

             

            The neighbourhood I lived in wasn’t the most… affluent. There weren’t any middle class mothers of three up at the crack of dawn in order to get all of their children ready for school, or businessmen powerwalking from their front door to their flashy car, so they could beat the morning rush.

 

            The people who lived here enjoyed being invisible. We weren’t in the middle of nowhere but we also weren’t in the centre of all activity and it took at least ten minutes to get anywhere worthwhile. No one really cared about getting to know neighbours – and I suspected no one really wanted to.

 

            It was the perfect place if you wanted to be left alone. The rent wasn’t bad either.

 

            The bus stop wasn’t too far from my flat; about a four-minute walk – five at most. I wasn’t familiar with the bus schedule at all though. Panicking slightly, I tried to remember if it was due at five-to or five-past, because if it was the former I was absolutely screwed.

 

            I picked up my pace a little, cursing whatever asshole decided to steal my bike and the railing it was chained to over the weekend, and the next thing I knew I was on my ass and more than very confused.

 

“Shit! Sorry mate!” a voice said, a subtle accent ringing through the words and breaking me out of my disoriented state.

 

            My focus shifted onto the man in front of me and golden hair, tan skin and bright shining teeth met my gaze. His entire appearance screamed “I’m not from here! I’m from some other country where it’s sunny twenty-four-seven and everyone is happy!”.

 

            Honestly it annoyed me a little.

 

“Uh, no problem. Probably my fault anyway,” I winced slightly as I tried push my self up with my left hand a failed miserably. Somehow on the way down I sprained it.

 

“Fuck are you okay?” the guy said, holding out a hand to help me up.

 

            Yeah, it’s just sprained I think. Probably landed on it funny when I fell.” I replied.

           

            “Damn, I’m sorry.”

 

            “Don’t worry about it,” I said, brushing the dirt off my jeans, “It was my own fault anyway. I wasn’t looking where I was going. It’ll be fine in a couple of days.”

 

            “Well, I’m still sorry.”

 

            “Honestly, it’s fine. I’ve got full movement, just can’t put any pressure on it. See?” I waved my hand at him.

 

            “I guess,” he chuckled, “Hey you don’t happen to know which direction Richmond Avenue is in do you? I’ve just moved here and I already can’t find my way back.”

 

            “Yeah, just take your next left and you’ll be there.”

 

            “Thanks. I’ve been wondering around for about half an hour now trying to find my way back.”

 

            As he was speaking I checked the time on my phone and realised that if the bus was at five-to then I had about a minute to get there.

 

            “Shit. Hey, look, I’m really sorry, I’m not trying to be rude or anything, but I’ve got somewhere I need to be and if I don’t leave now I’m not going to make it, so I’m going to have to run. Good luck finding your flat though!” I said quickly already backing away.

 

            “Oh, yeah, sure, no worries. See you around?” he said, a blinding smile accompanying his words.

 

            “Sure. Word of advice though – not all your neighbours will be as nice as me,” I said and as I turned around I heard him call back.

 

            “Noted!”

           

Just before I rounded the corner I looked back, trying to be as subtle as possible, and to my surprise the guy hadn’t moved. He was just standing there staring at me with his phone pressed against his ear.

 

            I pretty much ran to the bus shelter, not even being able to consider that maybe that was a little weird for him to do or even question why, if he had a phone, couldn’t he have used it to find his way home.

 

            For once, luck was actually on my side because, as I arrived, admittedly breathing a little heavier than I had before I had left, the bus pulled up alongside me.

 

            As I climbed aboard and paid, I noticed that the bus was fuller than I remembered and instead of going towards my preferred seat at the back, which whilst free was surrounded by other people, I opted to linger towards the front of the bus and take my chances standing.

 

The fingers that weren’t wrapped around a pole for stability began to twitch in coat pocket, my brain becoming increasingly aware of not only the number of people on the bus but also the small space we were all crammed into together. My heart rate had only just gotten back to normal after my sprint to catch the bus and now I could feel it fluttering about in my chest, deviating from my regular heartbeat every now and then. I was beginning to feel like I couldn’t breathe.

 

I took a deep breath in, desperately needing the sensation of my lungs being full to capacity in order to remind my panicking brain that, yes, I was inhaling and exhaling and usual, and, yes, despite the small space there was still enough oxygen in the air and, of course, I would be fine.

 

Forcing myself to focus on the front window of the bus and the open space I could see through it, I sang through fragments of whatever song I could remember at the time in my head, just to try to fill the space in it.

 

The twitch in my fingers had taken to full on movement inside my pocket, twisting my house keys (and the key to my now missing bike lock) through my fingers as well as I could without actually having to take them out.  I was painfully aware of the slight jingling sound they were making and how much it was likely annoying everyone else on the otherwise silent bus but couldn’t stop the anxiety in my body from escaping in some form.

 

            For the rest of the bus journey I took to focusing on keeping my breathing steady, not wanting to gain any attention for being the girl hyperventilating on the bus, and then, ten torturous minutes later, the bus pulled up to the station and I all but flung myself out of the door and proceeded to vacate the satiation so I could get some fresh air.

 

            Fuck, I thought, my heart still racing, I thought I was over that.

 

            It had been so good recently – my hands didn’t shake at work anymore and I could walk through crowds of people without freaking out. And a goddam bus brought it all back? 

 

            Guess I’m gonna have to buy a new bike.

 

All of a sudden a new wave of panic washed over me, only this time it wasn’t for no reason.

 

I was officially late.

Not to mention that my anxiety ridden self had not even noticed that it had started to rain whilst I was on the bus and I had just stood out in it for a good five minutes meaning I was now thoroughly damp.

 

Shit,” I cursed under my breath and began to fast walk in the direction of the bookstore.

 

My luck, however, had worn out for the day and the town centre was absolutely packed because of course it just had to be market day so everyone had decided to go bloody shopping.

 

I wove through the crowd, dropping ‘excuse me’s and ‘sorry can I just squeeze through’s and even a yelp of pain when an old woman hit me with her bag as I went. Eventually I broke through the crowd and, with the bookstore in sight, began legging it to the door, when for the second time that day I found myself on the ground, only this time I was flat on my back.

 

“Fuck me.” I groaned, pushing myself up with my right hand. At least I hadn’t injured that one too.

 

“I mean that’s rather forward. I was just going to help you up.” A voice chuckled.

 

I turned towards the source of the comment to see a guy about my age holding out a hand to help me up.

 

“I’m really sorry by the way, I didn’t even see you.”

 

Looking at him and then his outstretched hand, I sighed and rolled my eyes before getting up on my own all the while wondering what I had done to deserve such a disastrous morning.

 

As I stood up I did a quick check to make sure I hadn’t dropped anything and, lo and behold, all the contents of my bag were sprawled across the concrete. I was crouching to pick them up when he spoke again.

 

“Look, it really was an accident. Are you okay.”

 

“I’m fine,” I said curtly all the while unceremoniously shoving my things back into my bag. I went to swing it back onto my shoulder and realised the strap was broken.

 

“Just my fucking luck…” I muttered.

 

“Aw, shit, did that break when I knocked you down? I’m so sorry. I’ll buy you a new one.”

 

I stood up and turned to face him.

 

“Don’t bother,” I replied in a colder voice than I had anticipated before swinging back around and marching into the bookshop, cursing under my breath the whole time.

 

“Asshole.”

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