I couldn't stop looking over my shoulder every few minutes. As I walked down the busy streets of Trilogy City a shivering fear made a home out of my artificial body. I clutched on to the shopping bag in my right hand and braced myself to dive into the rushing crowed of the afternoon. Leave it to me to go shopping in the busiest hour of the day. I could have done it this morning, but no. Level One was always in a rush hour. It was the only place to shop for food and other essentials. Those of the Lower Level had to share the market with Level One. Level Two was a rather restricted area. You'd have to be authorized to go past it.
I waited for the crowd to clear before picking up my pace. I earned a few bumps and elbows to my side, which reminded me, next time I should manage my time a little better. This is good though, the more people, the easier to escape if ever they find me. Because they always find me. I've been living in Trilogy City for almost a two months now and there has been no sign of them. Yet. I guess I've been lucky. I found a job at a low rate food joint where only the lowlife of the city go to. What do I do? I wait tables and clean the bathrooms. It sucked, but it was good enough to keep me fed. Because who knew that a humanoid needed to eat? I thought my creators made me eat simply because they wanted an excuse to sit around a table like a "normal' family.
It was weeks after I escaped that I realized that, to survive, I function on the most basic of human needs. Then I was certain when I nearly died of starvation on the side of a bakery while scavenging for left overs in the trash. It wasn't a pretty picture to paint. That's when the lady tossing out old pastries saw me. She was nice enough to shelter me and feed me for a day or two. I was clueless to so many things at first, but I've slowly learned. I've learned to hide, run and look after myself. Especially in this city. I figured a place filled with so many creatures I'd be well camouflaged.
This city reeked of magic, dark and light. Creatures don't really show their true faces and the humans never know who they are really telling their secrets to. If I wasn't safe here, then there is nowhere else to go. Don't get me wrong though. It's not like the city was safe as houses all on it's own. There was one thing to look after yourself from here. The Dusk Family.
Trilogy City is run by the Dusk Family, the same family that built this place from the ground up. Literally. They weren't a bunch you'd want to mess with. They were to be feared and if you had the good sense to stay away then you'd live to see another day. Which is why I might die at an earlier age. Despite the ruthlessness of the family, many praised them. I never cared for any of them, but most girls and grown women alike drooled over the leader. Robin Dusk was a force not to be trifled with, yet I'm a little more than sure that half the female population has slept with him. Whenever the family roamed the streets to make their presence known, a poor girl was dragged away, tucked under Robin's arm. It's a shame really, how they are easily fooled by his charm. I could honestly say I can't stand Robin, or the rest of his family for following him so willingly.
The crowd slowly cleared and the roads became darker and damper as I reached the entrance to the Lower Level. Yes. Level. By now you must be wondering what I mean. This city is composed of many levels stacked one over the other. The higher up, the brighter it is and the wealthier you were. It just so happens that I live in the lowest. People think we are the scum of the city. You could say we live in the unclean underbelly of a "well-structured" system. I say the Dusk Family is just too lazy to invest a small piece of their wealth on the lowlifes.
A constant vibration annoyed me and I stopped beneath a deem lamp post that bend to the right. It must have gone crooked over the years and like a hopeless soul it bowed its head. I set the bag down and fished out my phone from the back pocket of my jeans, compliments of my boss. When I answered, an angry voice came from the other side.
"Jinx! Hurry the hell up! I got starving costumers over here!" That was Benny. My boss for all purposes except for paying me. The old man owed me half the money I've worked for. I let it slide, though sometimes I have to remind him I'm not working for free. The guy can't even remember to bring his keys every morning, which is why we often open late.
"I'm close. Don't fuzz, Benny. You'll damage something." I worked on tying my apron around my waist as Benny went on and on about how I'm so ungrateful and disrespectful. He wouldn't fire me though, I'm his only waitress. Hell, I'm his only employee.
"Just get your ass over here."
"On it, Boss." I tucked the phone away and continued down the street with the bag against my chest. When I reached the Level One exit, it always reminded me of a tunnel. But, it was more like a staircase that went down to the Lower Level and the Underground. I began walking down the stairs, squinting my eyes as they adjusted to the dark. Level One had a fancy elevator guarded 24/7, by huge ass goons, that took you all the way up to Level Two, Level Three and lastly the Upper Level. Where royalty lives. Or so I've heard from rumors. I took the last step and above me was the bottom of Level One. The sun hit us from the side, but it was a faint, weak light permanently there during the day.
I walked the streets in silence and soon took a turn on the next intersection. I found myself at the mouth of an alley close to the tunnel stairs. Benny's was easy to get to. There wasn't much of the Lower Level to go around so coming here couldn't take you more than ten minutes no matter where you are.
Drops of cold rain began to fall and I hurried my stride. Deeper into the alley a door came into view. An old sign that read "Benny's Bar and Grill" was falling from the left side, threatening to fall on the next poor soul that so much as looked at it wrong. The music was loud and the thundering voices were even louder. I reached the door and kicked it with a booted foot. I waited for the door to open and when it did the smell of alcohol filled my nostrils. It was a familiar scent that I've come to love. I remember when it used to make me dizzy. I'd get home and puke my guts out until there was nothing left in my stomach.
"About damn time." Benny grabbed the bag from my arms and disappeared into the cluster of drunken men and women. There were few tables in the small joint, which made it a lot easier for me. Most came in here for the music and the alcohol. Also, for the pool. A good game of pool always got the men worked up, so much that brawls formed every now and then. I took a quick sweep of the place and started passing out beers and taking orders. The pin wheel Benny had on the small, ordering window was pilling up. I could hear him already cursing at the slow cooking grill. The lighting in the place was low and shadowy so I had to watch out for hidden hands. Some of them were rather grabby, but from the very first day I warned Benny I'd kick the ass of whoever's hand I catch on me.
Orders where finally being served and the angry costumers where turning back to the happy drunks they were when they came in. That's another thing. Men and women came in drunk already from the previous night and they end up vomiting all over the floor. It was my job to take care of that too. Thankfully I spent the better part of the night serving beer and burgers until one idiot got handsy.
"Hey, Sweetheart! Another one over here." Of course that was a sentence I had to puzzle together since all the words were slurred. A man balancing himself on a chair and with more facial hair than I thought possible was calling me over, waving a limp hand at me to hurry up. He got his drink but that wasn't enough to keep him at bay. His filthy hand ran across my ass after I turned and that got him a good kick to the growing. He fell back from his chair and laughed as his hands flew down to his crotch. I shook my head and took off towards the kitchen.
Benny was whistling the same tune, probably the only tune he knows, when I slammed my palms over the metal counter. He was across from me and I gave him a pointed look. "I've been here for hours. I'm always here every damn morning until seven or so, busting my ass to keep this place going." I told him.
"Fine. Take the rest of the night off. I only needed the groceries anyway. You better come in early tomorrow."
"Like you care. I'm always early, Benny boy. You're just never there because you forget the keys. Oh! And you should really do something about that sign. It's going to hurt someone one day."
"Yeah. That will be the day some bastard is going to sue me and I'm going to tell him just where he can shove it."
I laughed. I couldn't help it. Benny was a grumpy man but his sense of humor was flawless.
"Here. So you can stop nagging me." Benny took out a roll of money from his pocket and tossed it my way. I caught it just in time before it hit my face. There was a lot here, probably most of what he owed me, but I knew he wouldn't pay it all back at once.
"Thanks a lot." I told him but he only waved the spatula in his hand. He wasn't much for gratitude, giving or receiving, so I nodded. After leaving the kitchen I made my way behind the bar. Empty bottles of whiskey, rum and vodka littered the floor and I had to kick them out of my way so I wouldn't trip and fall. Hidden under the counter, I kept my violin case. It wasn't much of a violin but it played beautifully. I grabbed it and got out from behind the bar with only a few strands of hair sticking out. It was filled to the brim in there so I had to push the lot of people as well as guard my face from swinging hands and elbows to get out.
In the streets I watched as people worked up a ruckus. It could only mean one thing. The Dusk family were making their rare, but famous round in the Lower Level. Everyone around scurried away into the "safety" of their homes. I tried to avoid the streets they usually roamed, so I double back into the alley and cut through the small space between two buildings. My figure was a rather tiny one so I squeezed in easily. When I managed to get out the other end I was in a deserted street, the same streets people left their beat up cars in. It was a wasteland not just for cars but for anything that had no use.
It was getting darker. I climbed on a Chevy with flat tires and a faded red color that gave in to the rust. I took out my violin and tuned the strings before positioning it against my shoulder. I tested it with the bow and began to play. It was a sad melody. It was also the only melody I did know how to play to perfection. Something about it always calmed me despite its tragically sad nature.
I was playing for a long time and I thought I had avoided the Dusk family but I hadn't. While playing I noticed two figures were jumping from roof to roof and they were headed my way. I closed my eyes, hoping that by ignoring them they'd keep moving. One of them stopped though, and I could feel eyes staring at me. The strokes of my bow slowed and though I tried not to look up I failed. Whoever it was, he was looking down at me and I couldn't identify who it was, but then again I didn't want to know. His head jerked away and that's when I set everything into the case and jumped off the car.
The abandoned manor. It wasn't far from Junk Street and located in the only graveyard in the Lower Level. No one came here anymore, not after people adopted the cremation of bodies, or so Benny says. In the months I've been here I've only seen one person come in, and it was to morn. I remember hearing the choked cries of a young lady, hoping her brother could come back. It was a sad sight really. The dead grounds of the graveyard gave into the cold, and the small patches of green were slowly turning brown. There was a rusty gate that blocked the path leading up to the manor. It screeched when I pushed it open and my boots thudded hard over the cracked cement. I thought about filling the cracks but I didn't know how long I had here.
The manor had two floors and the outside was as damaged as the inside. Again, why bother fixing something I'll have to leave behind? The porch was no longer a porch as it was a piece of board that ran from one end of the manor to the other. The old wood the manor was built of felt cold and damp on the outside and most of the place was cast in shadows. I never really paid attention to the looks of the place. I didn't care if it was nice or not as long as it had a bathroom and a bed to sleep on.
I felt ready to collapse on my bed but a noise shook off any sleep that was settling in. I spun around to look out at the graveyard, and saw nothing but still tombstones. Fear seeped in and a shiver fixed its way down my spine. Had they found me? In a hurry I tried to open the front door and make a run for it but I forgot to unlock it first. I searched in my pockets for the keys but I was too late. A loud noise came from behind me. The old wood of the porch protested and the rumbling of whatever landed on it made itself be felt from my feet and all the way up to my head. I slowly turned.
"Hi." It wasn't a very polite tone and it came off a bit forced. A tall man stood only a few feet from me, the night hiding his features and casting them in shadows. He was dressed in dark, long cargo pants, forest green shirt and a black coat that reached his knees. His hair was black and silky, falling down to his jaw. When he rose his chin I got a good look at him as moonlight lit up his face. His facial features were composed of an average nose, thick brows, thin lips, but none of that was what lured me in. It was his bright, fiery orange eyes. He was waiting for a reply but I had no idea how to react. I've seen him before, but never this up close. Mason Dusk raised a single eyebrow, his lip curving in question. I blinked, focusing while clearing my throat and finally gripping the keys inside my back pocket.
“Hello.” I said monotonously.
“Aren't you going to invite me in?” It sounded like he was ordering me rather than asking.
Did I have much of a choice? He is a Dusk. What would happen if I said no? I wasn't willing to find out. So I pulled out my keys and unlocked the door. When I stepped aside for him to pass he wondered in cautiously. Did he expect something to come at him? Because I sure as hell did. I was expecting three, slender, angry as hell women attacking me from all directions until I was nothing but a bloody pulp. Regardless, I shook it off and went in after him, closing the door behind me. Right now? I was more interested in why Mason Dusk was in my house.
“Why are you here?” It was a simple question, yet he avoided answering it. His attention was elsewhere. Well, I’m a young lady living in an old, abandoned manor. I could sum up a few things he’d be curious about.
“I saw you playing tonight.”
So he was one of the figures I saw back at Junk Street.
“Yeah? That still doesn't explain why you are here.”
He nodded but said nothing. A blue vial was now in his hand and he let it drop to the floor. It shattered and released a blue smoke that engulfed him completely. When it cleared away, he was gone.