Main girl: Sophie Ruby (Nightmare)
Sophie's father: Nickolai (Nick)
Enemy: Mortar (M)
Enemy: BlackJack (Killed mother)
The questions did continue but the reporters were more about the photographs than anything. They wanted Nicholai and Sophie to take photos together and separately. Some didn’t see this as a bad thing at all. Sophie was encircled by a sea of people, many of whom were twice or three times her age. Suits, tuxes and dresses surrounded her all suddenly turning to one color. Everything seemed to mesh together. The atmosphere around her was cold and empty as if someone had turned off a switch of some sort. She closed her eyes for a second, trying to refocus, trying to pull everything apart. She teetered backwards for a second, catching herself. She looked around and everything was normal again. Nobody else had felt what had just happened. She looked around again, searching for any signs of detecting. Everyone else was either talking to her or talking to someone about her. It was madness. She tried to move but more people came about her.
“Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Now let’s toast to the great news and to business and our futures,” someone on the microphone said.
A waitron came around passing out glasses of champagne. Sophie was handed one, as well as Nicholai. Sophie toasted as everyone else did. Nicholai smiled towards her and raised his glass. She did the same before taking a sip. It wasn’t a very large glass but Sophie doubted she’d finish it anyways. Nicholai headed off to the side to speak with more people of great importance. Sophie continued following him around for the questions and introductions. She was introduced quite a few times over the course of the night.
Abruptly, the feeling she’d felt earlier had come back. This time it was ten times greater than it had been. Her vision this time became blurred, indistinct; the feeling of her drowning and someone was trying to push her under. She dropped her glass, which shattered upon contact with the marble. Everyone stopped to look. Sophie could feel the ground rushing up to her face. Her vision blurred again. She couldn’t see a single person in the crowd surrounding her. All she could remember was this urge to just throw herself off a cliff, like someone was clawing the inside of her chest. But then as suddenly as it had started, it was gone. She sat up, realizing that Nick’s worried gaze was the closest to her. He helped her to her feet. Those eyes; an image was there for a millisecond and then vanished rapidly.
“I’m sorry everyone. I didn’t mean to ruin the party,” she said embarrassed, trying to collect herself.
A waitron came over with a dustpan to sweep up the glass. He didn’t look at her as he bent down to take care of her mess.
“Are you all right?” someone asked, although Sophie could still hardly see clearly.
“Oh yes, just a little dizzy is all. I’m probably dehydrated,” she implied, blinking quickly to better clear her vision.
Nick led her to the nearest table where she could get a glass of water.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked.
“I’m fine. I just need some air. I think I’ll go outside,” Sophie said, grabbing the glass of water that was extended to her.
Quickly enough, Sophie headed for the nearest exit door. Across the building she found an alleyway. It had a somewhat dark and damp feeling to it. Crates with labels of the hotel were set off to the side. She sat against the wall, trying to breathe as best she could.
Her heart raced, “What is this? What’s going on?”
“You’re not imagining it,” said a voice, a voice coming from the shadows.
At first Sophie thought the voice belonged to Shadow, but no. This voice was much different. It was no longer that husky, reassuring voice that she’d learned to know. Something about it was off, a hint of mischief and darkness.
“Who’s there?” Sophie asked, trying to get to her feet.
“Oh, just someone from around,” he laughed, his voice musical but deadly.
The feeling returned, that of nausea and something clawing at her very life force. It was more concentrated now. As he walked out of the shadows, it grew stronger. Sophie gripped her chest, wishing she could only take away this excruciating agony. It made it harder to breathe. Sophie fell to her hands and knees, panting for air. Her right hand held her up as she nauseously slumped forward.
“W-what is this?” she stuttered.
More pressure pressed against her air supply and the clawing dug deeper. She was now lying on her stomach, hands at her throat and chest.
This is what I like to call death, Little Nightmare,” his face came into the light, still casting shadows.
She looked up at him in shock. The man was very good looking. His lips were luscious, pulled up into an evil, mischievous grin. His face was lean with a slight shade of stubble, only barely noticeable. His hair was shiny, spiky and brown; short and to the point. But the one feature that really stood out above the rest was his cold, alluring eyes. Those eyes…
“You… you did this to me. In the ballroom, it was you I saw.”
He nodded shortly.
“What are you doing to me..?” Sophie managed to say, trying to keep from completely folding in on herself.
“I’m trying to kill you. You see, this is my presence spell. Depending on how powerfully leveled you are, and how much you can take, it kills you. It can wage your power level for me as well. Right now, I’d say you are a level three.”
“Level three? What are you talking about?”
“Well, there is a power scale. Depending on how much power you can hone, the powers you obtain have levels. If you were simply a transporter then you’re only a level one. Other powers have scales all their own. For example, telekinesis can range from minor to major. Mere witches are usually minor because they can pick up things like pencils and books. If you are a major telekinetic user, you can pick up things like weapons, vehicles, everything around you. Things don’t have to be big in order for it to be major though. Very small concentrated things such as weapons are major. Guns, bullets, things like that need a lot of power to control because of speed. Is this making sense, Little Nightmare? I am a level five. I’m surprised though. You are so much like your mother. Usually, people like you keel over or go into a coma from my energetic presence. Only a level four or five can survive barely. I knew you’d be different though. It obviously affects you greatly. Well, everyone is different. This is going to be fun. I’m going to enjoy this,” he smiled.
“You know my mother?” Sophie asked, surprised again.
“Of course I did. A lot of people did.”
Sophie was sick of his vagueness. She tried to stand. Every part of her body shook with exhaustion and fright. The fear was worse than when her mother had been killed by Blackjack. She wasn’t under any drug influence, which made it seem like she was quite vulnerable to this man. This was probably who had set up the riddle. This was probably the person who called himself M.
“You’re M. You set up the riddle and wrote that letter didn’t you?” Sophie asked, staring at him in disgust.
He laughed, “Right you are. You’re pretty smart. Course it is kind of common sense. I’m the only one attacking you here.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I said, I’m here to kill you.”
Sophie watched him as she tried to stand once more. Little by little she pulled herself to her hands and knees. He had lightened the pressure, probably so she wouldn’t keel over while he was speaking.
“I may not have killed you with that, but I sure have weakened you.”
“How are you doing this to me?” she asked, slumping back to the ground, gasping for air.
“It’s one of my powers. Did you honestly think you were the only one in the world who had obtained such abilities?” he laughed at the thought.
“Did you say one of your abilities?” Sophie’s eyes grew wide, trying not to think about what else he could do to her in this weak state.
He laughed again, “You amuse me more than I thought you would, Little Nightmare.”
Sophie shook even more so rapidly. How could this possibly be? She was truly scared out of her wits. She didn’t even know this man. Who was he? Why did he want her dead?
He turned to face away from her, standing with his arms at his sides. He wore a suit with a striped tie that he now loosened around his neck as he spoke, “You’ll be seeing me a lot. The next few months are going to be quite a ride, Little Nightmare. And I think we’re all going to learn something about ourselves in the process. You’ll learn you’re a pathetic little girl, if it hasn’t sunk in already. Look at you.”
He partially turned to look at her to make his point. Sophie was panting again, bleeding from her nose, completely shaking in fear and trying not to cry. She’d made it to her hands and knees again, looking up at him through some of her loose hair.
“Trying to do what’s right, you’re just like her. You still don’t get it though. It’s not about right. It’s not about wrong. It’s about power,” he smiled evilly before walking away, back into the darkness, disappearing completely.