Friday, February 29th and appearing every Sunday that follows, I’ll be
writing an online novella one chapter at a time one week at a time.
From the seat of my pants. Who knows if it’ll suck or if it’ll flow
well, make sense, or have any merit whatsoever. Regardless, it’s going
to happen and I hope you’ll come along for the ride. – Nick.

1 – Amelia

“I’m going to die.”

Amelia Randall flattened herself against the wall as the horde passed.
Her eyes closed, she could feel their heat. They brushed against her as
they moved, every sound amplified in the close quarters. Then the rush
of liquid on her. From above. She opened her eyes, filling them with
the cold stuff.

Rain. For once a cleansing one.

The crowd finally thinned around her and her breath came back full. She looked
as they moved into the street ahead and dispersed, all shouting and
mad. She hated when they had a match in town and hated it doubly so if
the locals won. The hooligans were one thing but this was larger.

Different. This wasn’t just the working class. This was everyone. There was a taste of madness in the air. Bankers, poets, and rogues all became a hive mind,
tearing and running wild under the dim auspice of celebration. They were in the pubs and anywhere else they could go, oftentimes coming into close proximity with Amelia. She hated anything that forced her to interact with others on the best days. These were the hardest.

She was small and afraid. Had always been. Other people were a necessary evil to Amelia and nothing more. The encroached on her creating a semi-claustrophobia she was never able to shake and one of many reasons she was an invisible person to most.

In recent months things had become increasingly worse.

Amelia was attuned to the undercurrents. Being invisible had its benefits. The temperature of a conversation. The shifts in empty space. Everything moved around her and she sensed where she had to be in advance so as best to avoid confrontation. Contact.

She’d dated one man in college, even given herself to him but she couldn’t fight the feeling of being invaded. Since then she lived in a vacuum, doing only as much as needed to continue her quiet and insignificant little existence.

Now she was scared. There was something in the air. A void that seemed to pulse with anticipation. As if an invisible enemy was preparing for something. She shared these thoughts with her companion, Nobody. Nobody never offered a rebuttal and was the perfect collaborator to Amelia. Never argued. Never doubted. Never imposed its will.

Amelia sat on a bench, listening to the crowd move away. Their absence brought an eerie calm. The air seemed frozen. She played with the charm bracelet around her neck, a gift from a mother afraid to voice her affection or pride or anything other than an excerpt from a Bible passage to solve any situation. It was her only link to a past she regretted, something to cling to in an underwhelming present as she approached a future she dreaded.

She let it go knowing that eventually it too would be discarded. Instead of the familiar thud of the metal heart against her chest she felt the same nothingness she was accustomed to. She looked down to see the charm in midair where she let it go. Suspended. It then slowly arced to the left of her neck as if guided by a string.

Amelia turned her head to follow its motion, looking for the cause. There was nothing but there was something.

Something foreign. Ill-fitting. It moved away from her and the charm plummeted to her chest, startling her. She sat on the bench for a moment and then stood. She called to Nobody, who offered no advice. In the place of her inner guide there was a tugging in her chest. A faint grip on her that beckoned her towards the entity that had passed. The unseen. The dangerous.

Everything in her being told her to leave. To run. To hide.

But for some odd reason, she followed.

She wasn’t the only one.