“-shattered ribs, possible punctured lung, spinal damage.”
Something rolls beneath Lucas. It bumps, sending shockwaves up his back-
Trevor’s voice. “I’m not leaving. I’m NOT LEAVING!” Sounds of a scuffle. “Get OFF-”
A steady rhythm, sharp beats, each like a punch to the head.
“-prep the OR for surgery-”
Lucas woke up to silence.
He tried to get his eyes to open, but they couldn’t obey him. He was trapped. He tried to scream, to shout, but the sound slammed against his closed lips and rebounded into his throat. He could feel his heart beating faster and faster as the realization set in that he was aware, but unable to do anything about that awareness.
“Try to stay calm,” said a voice from above him. It wasn’t Trevor, it wasn’t Isabel, but it was familiar. It was…
“I’m going to buy you some more time,” said Lady Morrow from just above Lucas’ chest. Something clattered near her voice, as if she was fiddling with some sort of machinery. “I’ve only got a few minutes before security breaks the door down. For the sake of your friends, I hope this works.” She paused for a moment, and Lucas thought he heard a sharp intake of air. “…for your sake, I hope it doesn’t.”
There was a sharp snap, and then a dull hiss.
Then silence again.
Lucas stood in the middle of a sheet of ice, which clung desperately to the edges of a frozen lake. Beyond its borders, on all sides, a white blanket of snow stretched beyond what the eye could see. Lucas turned around, and behind him, he saw the only break in the steady white sheet – a light, blinking, blinking, blinking, unstopping into the white abyss-
This time, Lucas woke up to noise. He was keenly aware of it, from the beeping of the heart monitor, to the scratching of the window against the windows, to the dull murmur of conversation beyond the door of his room.
Someone just outside of his field of vision gasped. Lucas turned his head to see Isabel race over from the window. She was still dressed in the suit she had worn to the restaurant, which was a change for her, as Lucas couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen Isabel wear the same outfit twice in a row. Beyond that, she looked as though she hadn’t slept in days.
Isabel reached down to clasp one of Lucas’ hands in both of her own. “Darling, how are you?”
“Fine.” Lucas said automatically, before he could stop himself. Then, all of a sudden, the memory of falling from the train rushed back to the forefront of his mind. “Holy shit, I’m fine. How am I not… how am I okay?”
“I think we’d all like to know that.” Isabel smiled and patted Lucas’ hand with one of hers. “No one is complaining, of course, but it was the strangest thing. When you came in-”
“Lucas!” came a shout from the door. Lucas barely had time to turn his head before Trevor’s arms were around Lucas’ neck and his lips were pressed onto Lucas’ with such force that it nearly knocked the wind out of his lungs. For that single moment, there was nothing else in the world but the two of them. Then Trevor pulled back, and Lucas could see the deep bags under his eyes from lack of sleep.
A fresh wave of guilt washed over him as he remembered his last thought before he hit the ground. He had just enough time reach up and cup Trevor’s cheeks in his hands before those thoughts became words. “Trevor, I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry, I was coming back to apologize and I’m…”
“It’s alright, babe.” Trevor leaned forward and kissed Lucas’ forehead. “Relax. You’re here, and I’m here, and that’s all that matters right now.”
A cough brought the attention of the room back to Isabel. “And I’m also here, in case you two forgot.”
Trevor laughed, and Lucas suspected it was the first time he had laughed in some time. “Yeah, like I could forget. Lucas, I don’t know where you’ve been hiding Isabel since college, but she’s refused to leave your side since you got here. You’re never going to find a more dedicated friend.”
Lucas turned to look at Isabel, unable to hide the surprise on his face. “Really? You’ve been here the whole time?”
She laughed. “Of course, dear.”
“What about your father’s estate?”
Isabel shook her head and slid into one of the hospital chairs that lined the walls of Lucas’ room. “All the money and power in the world doesn’t have a point unless you have a poor person around to be impressed by it, Lucas. And you’re the poorest person I know.”
Lucas laughed, almost without meaning to. “Thanks, Isabel. I think.” He paused for a moment and shifted in his bed. “You were saying, when I came in…?”
“Ah, right!” Isabel clapped her hands together. “Well, when you were brought in, you were a mess. Shattered ribs, broken spine, it…” She glanced at Trevor, who tried very hard not to break eye contact with Lucas. “…was a mess. Then they brought you in for surgery, and… well…”
As Isabel’s voice trailed off, Trevor picked up the slack. “That’s where shit got weird. Some lady broke into the room, forced the staff out, and barricaded herself in. By the time security got the door open, she was gone, and you were… fine. No more breaks, no more injuries. We don’t know what that woman did, who she is, or-”
“Lady Morrow.” Lucas cut in. “Her name is Lady Morrow. I met her that morning.”
Briefly, Lucas told Isabel and Trevor what had happened on the day of the accident. He started with the conversation on the train platform, skipped over most of the middle of the day (since they were all aware of it anyway,) and finished with the attack on the train car. He even included the half-corpse and the grey man.
When he was done, Trevor leaned down and gently took Lucas’ hand. “Babe? I’m gonna be nice about this, but… are you okay?”
Lucas frowned. “You don’t believe me, do you?”
“Well, I wouldn’t. But…” Trevor glanced to Isabel. “Look, you were bad when you came in, and now you’re not, and honestly, I don’t know what to believe. I’ll run with it. For now. I’ve got you, and that’s all that matters.”
Isabel, who had crossed her arms, nodded her agreement. But Lucas could see something working behind her eyes, even if she didn’t say anything. Trevor might just be happy that Lucas was alright, but Isabel had her doubts about his story.
Lucas didn’t. He knew what he saw. He knew what was out there.
The hospital couldn’t find a reason to keep Lucas more than a few hours after he had woken up. He was released in the evening. Isabel gave him and Trevor a ride back to their apartment. Trevor ordered them pizza, and the two went to sleep curled up in each other’s arms.
Or rather, Trevor did. Lucas stayed awake. Every time he closed his eyes, he was dangling from the train again. Trevor’s arm wrapped around his became Lady Morrow clinging to him for her life. He stared up at the ceiling all night, until the shadows became sunrise.
As much as Lucas wanted things to go back to normal, they couldn’t. The first and only time he tried to go to work, he was hit with a wave of fear the moment he laid eyes on the train station. He only slept during the day, and even then not peacefully. Every time he slept, he plunged back into the fire and woke up screaming. After a few days, Trevor took to sleeping on the couch. He said it was to give Lucas space. Lucas knew it was because he couldn’t sleep otherwise.
The more Lucas tried to push himself to go back out into the world, the more it pushed him away. Eventually, he let his phone die. He accepted that he wasn’t going back to work. He didn’t know what he was going to do, but he knew that he couldn’t keep dragging Trevor down with him.
Lucas knew what he had to do.
He just didn’t want to do it.
Two weeks after he woke up in the hospital, Lucas sat in his kitchen with a half-eaten bowl of cereal. Trevor emerged from the bedroom, muttered a faint “bye”, and left for work. He didn’t even look at Lucas.
That was the moment Lucas knew that he had to go. Somewhere. Anywhere that wasn’t that apartment. He pushed the bowl away from himself and stood up. For a moment, his head swam as he thought about walking through the apartment door. Then he took a deep breath and walked over to the door. His hand tightened around the doorknob, and he pulled it open.
Someone was standing just beyond it. Lucas thought it might be Trevor for a brief moment, and then realized it wasn’t.
“Hello, Lucas Parker,” said the grey man. “Can I come in?”
Lucas stared at him for a moment. Then he tried to slam the door shut. The grey man shoved a foot in the way, and with an unnatural strength, pushed the door open. He shut it behind him, then strode past Lucas and into the kitchen, glancing around. “It’s bigger than I thought it would be.”
Lucas inched himself around to keep the grey man in his line of sight. “Who are you?”
“The Nameless. The Unknown. I shed concepts like ‘who’ long ago.” The grey man ran a hand across the countertop before he turned back to Lucas. “So. You survived.”
“Apparently.” Lucas said before he could stop himself.
The grey man snorted. “It’s a miracle.” He leaned forward, towards Lucas, his white eyes somehow managing to flash in the dim kitchen light. “Lady Morrow has disappeared. She has taken the vial and fled. I will go in pursuit, of course, but first, some unattended business.”
Lucas took a step back. “Look, I just want to be left alone. I’m not going to get involved with whatever you two are doing. Promise.”
“There’s your mistake. You already are.” The grey man turned back to the counter. He fiddled with the stove for a moment, then ran a hand along the handles of the knife rack as he spoke, quietly and softly. “Whether by accident or fate, you are now a piece in our game. A piece that has no place here, and needs to be taken off the board.”
There was a tense moment of silence.
Then Lucas dived for the door.
The grey man spun around. A flash of metal erupted from his outstretched hand. Lucas barely had time to register it as a kitchen knife before it disappeared beneath his vision and embedded itself in his throat.
Lucas tried to gasp in shock, but nothing entered his mouth.
All that came out of it was blood.
As he staggered and hit the floor, the grey man stepped around him. Above him, Lucas heard the front door open and then close.
Lucas pulled himself to his feet. His head was already spinning. He staggered to the bedroom, his vision blurred as he walked. His phone was still sitting in the nightstand, where it had been for a week. He grabbed it, his hand so bloody that it almost slipped out. Lucas dropped to his knee, bracing himself with his free hand on the nightstand. With the other, he groped for the phone charger. When at last he found it, he jammed it into the phone and slapped the side a few times, searching for the power button.
The phone lit up.
The few seconds between the phone lighting up and Lucas being able to unlock it were the longest of his life.
He tapped the text icon, barely able to see it through the haze descending on his vision. He tapped his conversation with Trevor, and with the last of his strength, Lucas typed out the word “run” and pressed send.
Then Lucas collapsed to the floor. He barely had time to reach up and pull the knife from his throat. He heard it clatter to the floor, and then everything went black.
Lucas woke with a start.
“Lucas, what the fuck?”
Rather than answering immediately, Lucas pushed himself up to a sitting position and took in the scene before him. He was still in the bedroom. Trevor was kneeling down next to him, clutching his phone tightly in his fist. The apartment smelled awful. A trail of blood led out of the bedroom door and towards the kitchen – Lucas’ blood. There was a lot of it.
Trevor looked like he has seen a ghost. Lucas reached out to put a hand on his boyfriend’s, but Trevor pulled back. His eyes were wide and his jaw was slack. It took him another few seconds to pull himself together long enough to choke out more words.
“Babe, there is a hole in your throat.”
Lucas reached up to touch the spot where the knife had cut him open. Sure enough, the flaps of skin were still hanging loosely around a small incision. His hand came away coated in half-dried blood.
“Huh,” he said, “There is.”
Trevor’s legs gave out. He slumped down to the floor entirely, gripping his phone tighter in a shaking hand. “This isn’t funny.”
“This isn’t a joke!” Lucas snapped back, harsher than he meant to. As soon as he saw the hurt look flash across Trevor’s face, he inched forward and reached towards his boyfriend. This time, Trevor didn’t pull away, and Lucas rested a hand on his forearm. “I’m going to say some things that are gonna sound really weird, and I need you to just go with it, okay?” Trevor nodded, and so Lucas continued. “The grey man from the train was here. He knows where I live. He may be coming after you next. That’s why I told you to run.”
“Did he say who he was?”
Lucas shook his head. “He said he was ‘Nameless’, and some other creepy shit.” In his mind’s eye, Lucas could clearly still see the grey man. He could see the man run his hands over the knives and fiddle with the stove, corrupting the apartment with his presence. “Seriously, it’s dangerous for you to be here. You should-”
Fiddle with the stove.
The gas stove.
Lucas suddenly realized why the apartment smelled terrible.
He darted forward and grabbed Trevor’s hand. With a furious motion, he yanked Trevor to his feet and started for the door. “RUN!”
Trevor, to his credit, just ran without a word.
The two sprinted past the kitchen and out into the hallway. They were halfway to the stairs when Lucas heard a noise like air being sucked into an abnormally large mouth. He turned his head towards his apartment door just in time to see it disappear into a flash of fire and light.
He threw himself between the fire and Trevor, shoving his boyfriend down into the carpet in the process. For a moment, the world above them felt like it was being ripped away.
Then the hallway was silent.
Someone elsewhere in the building screamed, and Lucas was pulled back to his senses. He rolled off of Trevor and pushed himself to his feet. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah…” Trevor yanked himself up to a sitting position. “Yeah, I’m alright. What the hell was that?”
“Looks like the plan was to make it look like I died in the explosion.” Lucas looked down at Trevor. “You really should-”
Trevor cut him off before he could finish his sentence. “We need to go somewhere safe. We need to go somewhere safe.” He stood quickly and pulled his phone from his pocket. “How do I get in touch with Isabel Lindsey?”