Her hands shook, each finger twitching in a frenzied and broken rhythm that no one could have possibly understood. That was okay, the rhythm of her fingers matched the erratic beating of her heart at that moment. She had done something horrible, something that she might never have believed possible of herself in a million years. Worse than that though, so much so in fact that she felt it as a sudden awakening in the pit of her stomach, she’d enjoyed it. She had put a gun to a man’s head and pulled the trigger, and she had loved it.
The actions her mind kept returning to were not the most recent either. A shaky smile alit upon her chapped lips as she swayed slightly on her feet, feeling the gray sand beneath her feet as it worked in between her toes. There was an uncertain quality about this place she’d always enjoyed, though she couldn’t explain it. She’d come here with her family on and off for years, mostly to vacation and sometimes to stay with friends. This was where she’d met her first and only boyfriend, where she’d lost him, and more importantly this was the spot where she’d been really happy for the first and only time in her life. Maybe it was fitting then that this was where she’d finally been run to ground.
A gentle breeze caressed her as she felt it slide across her feet, rising to ruffle her clothing as well as her hair as it touched upon her cheek. The sensation caused a shudder to run through her body as she felt certain that it would be one of the last things she ever experienced. As she saw it such a thing wouldn’t be so bad. Now if only she could get her heartbeat to stop racing.
“Beautiful day,” spoke a voice off to her right, a young man by the sound of it. Myah almost jumped out of her skin as the glasses she wore, thick horn-rims that had earned her more than a few years of ridicule, almost bounced off of her nose. She adjusted them without thinking about it, turning her head to look at the person who’d spoken. Just as quickly she looked behind her to see if he’d been accompanied by anyone else, but all she saw were the usual run of the mill tourists, locals, and the gray, wooden walkway that served as the boardwalk to the town beyond the dunes.
“I’m sorry?” she asked, blinking rapidly as she looked upon the young man. He looked no older than his teens, blond-haired and quite athletic in a muscular, well-toned kind of way that she had to admit was kind of eye-catching. On top of being quite attractive and obviously self-confident he had a sort of aura around him, a feeling that she couldn’t help but acknowledge as he looked at her, grinning slightly in a way that made her heart do flip flops. Shaking her head she willed those thoughts away. She hadn’t bothered to be attracted to anyone in several years, and she wasn’t about to start now.
“I said it’s a beautiful day,” he replied, “These kinds of days are rare here during this season.”
She looked up into the crystal clear blue sky. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen all the way to the horizon, though she knew from past experience that clouds were normally a common occurrence in this place. In the summer there was still a good chance of rain, but in the spring, as it was now, rain was a foregone conclusion, an expected calm before the storms that hit this coastline so frequently. To have a day like this was something unexpected. To have it now was, well, almost prophetic somehow.
Licking her lips she looked to the young man as she spoke, “I don’t mean to be rude, but I’d like to be alone at the moment.”
He grinned again and nodded, but did not leave. She raised her eyebrows at him in return.
“That means leave, please.”
Still he stayed. She was tempted to tell him again, to even show him the way off of the beach at the point of her foot, or with some other, more lethal incentive, but instead she turned to face him fully this time. He looked at her in expectation, hands crossed behind his back as though he was expecting to just move into a pleasant conversation. And to her amazement, that was just what happened.
“Are you from here?”
“Yes, this is my home in fact.”
“What’s your name?”
“I’ve had a few, but at this moment you can call me Tyler.”
That was curious, but something about the friendly manner in which he spoke simply demanded that everything was okay, that she didn’t need to delve any further. As another breeze came along she inhaled through her nostrils, thinking of something else to say. She’d never been much of a conversationalist, but this young man seemed capable of drawing that quality out of her, no matter how underdeveloped it seemed.
“Do you know who I am?”
He nodded, which did worry her as she felt the cold lump of metal that was the pistol
she’d kept with her since her hasty retreat from Vancouver, only a few hours to the east of here.
She could feel it acutely against her skin, almost as if it was rubbing in just that certain way that
demanded she pull it for the one single purpose it had been made. She’d done so more than once on her trip west and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again if she found the need. Surprisingly the urge wasn’t as strong in that moment. Even with the chaos that had emerged within her mind after her mentor had texted her, indicating that it was time for the revolution, she couldn’t find it in her to use the weapon on this man.
“I do,” he nodded, “Your name is Myah Janet Mattson, and you’re on the run from the police in both Clark and Pacific counties.”
There came that itch to draw down again, but she still felt no need. How was that possible?
“Then you know I’ve killed a few people.”
Again, a nod, “Yes, I do.”
“And you aren’t worried?”
He looked ready to laugh, but she was feeling anything but jovial at the moment. Instead the urge to pull her weapon came again. But again that strange feeling she got from just being near him came over Myah again, and she couldn’t so much as twitch her fingers. It might have worried her at any other time, but right now it was just a minor bother.
“I know why you did it, not just why the newscasts say you did, and I know who sent you to do it. But none of that matters.”
Her heart was hammering harder in her chest now as she listened, but still she did not reach for her weapon, preferring to hear more. A large part of her mind said that this was insane, the young man, Tyler, was insane, and that she should just get going. Within the back of her mind alarms were howling, and the inner voice that was at times the strongest part of her person was screaming at her to just drop and toss her weapon away, to just-
“I also know that you’re a troubled young woman, and that you see yourself as an avenger of sorts, a former victim who’s turned the tables on those who would seek to make a mockery of her. You’re deluded and scared, that much is obvious, but now you’re a bit dangerous.”
Who was this man? She wanted to recoil but her feet wouldn’t move, not so much as a twitch as she looked at the young man, then at the dunes to the east again. Back that direction sat a town, hiding places, and further south lay egress to other locations, different towns, cities, and a vast number different areas in which she could take refuge. But sadly none of those seemed possible as, thanks to a surveillance camera from her first kill, her face was now plastered all over the news along with several others. Her mentor had initiated a sort of city-wide chaos back in the region spanning from Vancouver all the way to Boring, Oregon, and the killing spree it had initiated was still ongoing. But unfortunately for Myah her part was rapidly coming to a close it would seem
“H-how do you know all this?” she asked, not understanding why her tongue was suddenly a dry, chafing sponge that stuck to the roof of her mouth, nor why her hands felt cold and clammy all at once. She wanted to bolt, just like a few seconds ago she wanted to go running back to the reliable little Mazda that had brought her here, but she could not. The air around her seemed suddenly cold, as though a sudden chill had come upon the beach. There were still no clouds in sight, only the clear, azure blue sky above and the sun shining down from just behind where they stood.
Tyler cocked his head as he scuffed one sneaker-clad foot upon the sand, toeing it gently
as though deep in thought. Without speaking he looked like any other person in the world,
attractive but not overly spectacular in any way. So why did he appear to be so menacing? Why could she not just shoot him and be done with it? What was wrong with her?
She heard those alarms in the back of her mind again, blaring this time with such force that she almost winced in response.
“I know a few things,” he said idly, “But what I don’t pick up the news often supplements, even if ninety percent of it is trumped up, sensationalist garbage.”
“How do you know it’s not real?”
“Because newscasters and those who provide their stories are biased, just as all humans are. It’s a natural quality of the species as I’ve seen it, and one that’s not likely to change.”
“You talk like you know why I did this,” she said, almost glaring at him as she spoke. “How is that possible?”
Again Tyler looked at her in that almost mocking manner, and the alarms in her head had reached the level of a near screech. The same voice from before told her to drop the gun and just move away, to get away from this person and keep running. There was danger in this young man no matter how pleasing he looked, she could sense it somehow despite not being able to see it. All that she’d done to this point was enough to get her the death penalty, and standing her jawing with some young local, no matter how good he looked, was tantamount to slipping a needle into her arm and dying a slow, painless death.
“If you were going to run you would have done it by now Myah,” Tyler said, turning to face her fully as he kept his hands behind his back, “The only problem is, running wouldn’t do you any good. It’s been too late since you hit the county line.”
“What do you mean?”
“The police in Vancouver have been overworked and unable to find a pattern in the killings that have been going on, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been entirely unsuccessful. They found your picture amongst the few that were unwise enough to kill without covering their tracks. The surveillance camera that led to your subsequent chase was particularly damning. It was a grainy picture to be certain, but given your sudden propensity for violence and the fact that you have been fingerprinted in the past it was just a simple matter of pulling up the record, a minor misdemeanor really, and finding out who you were.”
“I left prints,” she said, her heart sinking.
“Indeed,” Tyler said, nodding again. “The damnation of being human includes a great many factors, but among them are the genetic imprints left behind.”
“Huh?” she asked, for once feeling truly dumb. “Are you a cop, or something?”
He arched a single eyebrow at her, “Do I look like a cop?”
No, no in fact he didn’t, but as she kept looking at him that feeling in the pit of her stomach grew worse, and the itch to draw her weapon became stronger and stronger. Something wasn’t right here, and as another breeze came along she felt chilled to the core as her entire body shuddered, almost bad enough that the gun wedged in the back of her pants felt as if it might fall into the crack of her buttocks. She felt sweat collecting upon various parts of her body now, but it too was cold, as though her heart was no longer beating.
“Who are you then?” she asked, her voice starting to shake as she began to reach for the gun. Those voices in the back of her head continued to clamor, the alarms ringing and blaring at such a volume that she felt her temples throbbing, pulsating to the frantic rhythm of the sirens that called to her. She was half-tempted to put the pistol to her own temple just to keep the noise from driving her mad, but that would be last ditch effort, and one she didn’t wish to entertain.
“I’m the one sent to you to make certain you made it to the western edge.”
For some odd, inexplicable reason the answer he gave chilled her even more, causing her fingers to go numb as she reached for the gun at her back. She managed to pull it, but even as she did the alarm bells in her mind erupted into a single, cacophonous boom that rocked her physically, causing her to stumble to the left, her knees buckling from the sheer sound as her already deadened fingers lost hold of the weapon. Myah felt herself falling, but there was no pain. She felt only the motion, and then nothing. Opening her eyes wide she saw Tyler standing there, but he looked, felt, different.
No longer was the aura she had felt surrounding him, instilling within her a need to trust him. Now she felt only dread, and worse. She felt horror.
“Who are you?” she gasped in shocked terror, looking down at the crumpled form of her body as the faint flickers of red and blue continually winked in the distance. Turning, shaking, she noted the several armed men and women that were approaching slowly, cautiously, their guns still aimed at her inert body as it lay at her own feet.
“I’m the guide,” Tyler said calmly, “The last person you get to see before walking off the western edge.”
“The, the what?”
Tyler shook his head. It didn’t matter anymore was what she read in that gesture, and as she lifted a hand to her face, she decided such was true. She had lived her life addicted to the quiet, and then addicted to the madness. Going philosophical and demanding the purpose behind it all was meaningless anymore. As Tyler gestured towards the white-capped waves that rolled into shore just a short ways off Myah did not resist. The western edge, as he had called it, was beckoning to her. It was time to become addicted to the quiet once again, she hoped.