Chapter 1: A near escape
“Bye guys!” She shouted, throwing on her jacket. The rain had somewhat subsided but she knew she’d be soaked by the time she reached home. A few random byes were called out as the door shut to the shack. Or that was what she called it. It was a one room square block where Lana, a member of their group, lived. Cheap to keep, and a good meeting place for everyone like them.
Like we’ll ever get new members. We can’t exactly advertise our little club. She thought.
As the rain pelted Noelle’s head she felt uneasiness settle in the pit of her stomach. All week, she’d received strange calls. Heavy breathing. All week Garrick had been acting strange. He stopped returning her calls, he didn’t meet with the others. She knew he’d been avoiding her; ever since the argument, he slowly faded out of her life. She knew the calls were probably from him. The caller ID showed his home number. Why was Garrick using his home phone?
Garrick was just mad. Anything he said to her, any threats were bluffs. He was all talk.
As the wind picked, her skin started to prick. She felt her stomach drop, and an anxiety crept in. Calm down. She thought. It’s just a little rain and wind.
In the dark.
Just keep walking. It’ll be okay. She reached a lit street, and breathed a little sigh of relief, though she still felt the anxiety in the pit of her stomach. Just a few more blocks and she’d be home. Her mother was probably waiting up. She had probably been waiting up for a while. Beth could never be sure when Noelle was staying over at Lana’s or Garrick’s or if she would be coming home. Noelle always changed her mind last minute, so Beth waited up until 11 at night. If Noelle wasn’t home by then, she was at Lana’s or she went home with Garrick.
When Noelle thought about it, it was shitty parenting. You couldn’t deny that. But Noelle was 23 and she was an adult. Her mom respected her privacy, and she knew Noelle could handle herself. Her father hadn’t given her all those combat lessons and signed her up with professionals for nothing. So Beth waited up and Noelle either showed up or didn’t.
Sometimes Noelle stayed over at Lana’s for a day or two. Sometimes she went home the next day. It was incredibly reckless, and irresponsible, but that was okay. Beth figured after having to be responsible since birth, Noelle needed a bit of recklessness. Again, when Noelle thought about it, shitty parenting and shitty reasoning. If people knew her mother’s parenting dynamic, they’d probably call children’s aid or something. Again, Noelle was 23 and didn’t need children’s aid. But still, some people were that nosy and worrisome. All in all, Beth was an understanding person and Noelle was smart and could defend herself. Her father had seen to that. And besides, the people Noelle hung out with were like her. Or claimed to be. They were safe.
It was a few minutes later when a group of people came walking up the street Noelle was on. She was 3 blocks from home. She couldn’t hear the group, which was odd since her hearing was very developed, and slightly beyond normal. They were intentionally being quiet. They weren’t acting rowdy, so they weren’t drunk. Her eyes were keen, even in the dark blue-black of the night. This could be trouble. A bunch of guys walking down an empty street, trying to be quiet.
Either they were trying to lay low from people in general or they were trying to catch someone off guard. If I was completely human they would have. This could be trouble. Big trouble.
Okay. She thought. I’ve got a bad feeling about this. She could cross the street and keep going towards home, or she could cross the street and go back to Lana’s and spend the night. It was quarter to 11, so she had time to do either. Either way, she was crossing the street.
She looked both ways, and hurried across the narrow road. The street was well lit, and she hoped that might discourage the men from causing trouble. Maybe they were going to a fight or something? She kept walking towards home. Lana’s place was 7 blocks away. It was faster to just go home. Then the scariest thing happened.
The men turned around. They just turned and started walking the same direction she was going. It was what scared Noelle the most during that night. It confirmed her suspicions.
They were following her.
Okay, okay. So some guys are following you. She started to breathe hard and picked up her pace a bit. Calm down. Calm DOWN. You need to think. What was she going to do? I could run home. But then they’d know I was nervous, and they’d run too. She could run a tad faster than men. But one of them could be a track star. You never knew these days. I could find a public place, a bar or a restaurant. Wait there or call Mom, ask her to pick me up. That seemed like the best option. She looked around for any restaurants, bars, even strip clubs. Anything open this time of night on a Saturday.
There! She thought. A main road was coming up. If she turned down there, it’d not only be even more lit, but people would maybe be lingering about. There’d be a bar she could go into and call Beth to come get her, that she suspected someone was following her. She didn’t even care about Beth freaking out or attempting to give her a curfew or a lecture about being more aware and careful. As long as she got home safe.
She was getting closer to the corner of the street. I just have to go right. She kept repeating over and over, a mantra to keep her calm. I just have to go right. It was at that point that the men crossed the street. Noelle picked up the pace again. So did the men. She broke out into a run.
She was almost there. She was so close. When she heard a voice.
“Help! Noelle, help me!” She turned. She knew that voice. It was Garrick.
There were four men, all in black hoodies. They had Garrick pinned, and had a crowbar held over his head, ready to swing.
And even though Garrick had been a complete and total ass the last time they spoke a week ago, even though it had been a messy relationship, and even though she didn’t love Garrick, she couldn’t even think about her own safety right now.
She was too compassionate. She needed to help Garrick.
“Help me Noelle!” Garrick’s voice held fear, and his voice cracked.
“Shut up!” A guy yelled, punching Garrick in the face. She heard a grunt, and heard the impact of the punch. Acute hearing sucked sometimes.
“Garrick!” She yelled, jogging over. “Leave him alone! What are doing with him?” Idiot! What are you doing? You can’t help him! “I called the cops the minute you started following me! Let him go!” She lied.
The guys laughed. It pissed her off. How dare they hurt her friend and laugh? Well, Garrick isn’t exactly a friend…but he’s still a person. She reached into her purse for her pepper spray. Just because she knew combat didn’t mean she used it. If she could avoid it, she did. Besides, four against two? Assuming Garrick would be able to get up if she sprayed the ones holding him and fight back. Assuming her aim was good and she didn’t get him in the eyes as well.
They were both going to come out bruised and maybe with a few bumps and cuts, if they had more weapons than a crowbar. But they were getting out. Alive.
Just as she pulled the pepper spray out, Garrick broke free, running towards her. She stopped what she was doing, and held out her hand to pull him along with her as they ran. She could hear the shuffling of feet, and she knew the four guys were running behind him.
Just as he reached her and grabbed her hand, a fist swung out at her. Garrick’s fist. She blocked it with her arm and pulled away, just to be caught with a blow to the head. She turned and tried to focus, but as soon as she targeted one and landed a punch, she felt another blow to the head.
Someone kicked her hard in the back, pushing her forwards. Then she was picked up. She squirmed, kicked and bit. Then she was tossed to the ground. She grabbed the pepper spray in her bag, looked away and pushed the nozzle. She heard a shout of pain, and she looked. She got him. Right in the eyes. She aimed at another, but someone was already picking her up again. She kicked, and turned her arm to spray the guy, while watching the two advancing on her, and the guy sobbing on the ground.
“Fuck! You bitch! Fuck that hurt!” Garrick’s voice was in her ear. He turned and slammed her to the wall of a building. Her ribs ached. She put her hand up to her face to defend herself, and the other shot to her ribs to protect them from further damage. I need help! I need help!
I’m going to end up raped, killed and buried somewhere! “HELP! HELP ME! PLEASE, SOMEBODY!” A fist shot out towards her. She blocked it, only to have a kick landed at her forehead. The back of her head slammed against the wall. She screamed again. Someone had to hear her. “HELP! THESE MEN ARE TRYING TO RAPE ME! THEY’RE GOING TO KILL ME! PLEASE!” She could hear the desperation in her voice.
“Shut the fuck UP!” Garrick hit her with something. No fist could hit that hard. Bang! Again.
The guys laughed.
“We’re getting some ass tonight.” She heard one say.
Garrick turned on them. “Shut UP! Shut the fuck UP!” He then turned to her again, and she opened her eyes, moving her hand from her face. He had the crowbar in his hand.
“Garrick…” she whispered. Everything hurt. Her ribs hurt, her back hurt, her head hurt. Her arms were tired from blocking. Her legs weren’t tired though. I need to try and run. It’s my last chance.
So while Garrick was lashing out insults and swearing his brains out, Noelle stood up and ran. Only to feel another blow to the back of the head. Bang!
It was the crowbar. She felt the vibration through her head, she heard it. Garrick had thrown the crowbar. She fell, tears springing from her eyes. It was all over. She had lost her chance.
Someone turned her over, and she scrambled back. Someone was behind her though, and pulled her by the hair back to the building wall. She was trying not to cry now. Pain shot from her scalp. “Quit crying Noelle. You’re a lot tougher than this.” Garrick stood in front of her. He gently wiped a tear from her face. “You know, you’ve always had a pretty face. A god-like face.” He laughed at his own joke. “Nobody should have that pretty of a face.” He swung his arm back, and Noelle cried out when the crowbar went diagonally across her forehead, brow, eye and cheek.
She slumped over to her side. I’m going to die. Mom isn’t even going to know until a few days. She’ll be all alone. I cried. Daddy. Daddy I’m helpless! But she knew her father was, quite literally, worlds away. I have nothing left.
So she did what she usually did when she was scared or felt helpless. She prayed to Odin.
For many years you have knocked at the hidden doors to my soul.
Patient yet ever insistent: awaiting my response.
Noelle prayed. All the while, the men took turns hitting her with the crowbar, kicking her, punching her. She had internal and external bleeding. She couldn’t move without feeling pain. Her neck refused to move after the blows it received.
She reached the last lines of her prayer.
May Your Valkyries find me worthy
When the web of my life is cut.
And then she added a final line. She didn’t know what she was thinking. She probably wasn’t. Her logical thinking had gone out the door, her survival instinct was to stay curled in fetal position to protect her organs.
Odin. Save me. Heimdall, valiant watcher of the realms. Help me. Open the bridge. It was something her father said when he left. He asked someone called Heimdall to open a bridge.
And then there was a bright light. Noelle was too enamoured by the spontaneous lightshow to notice that her attackers were thrown back. The four men were engrossed by the beautiful light, though they could hardly see it, blinding as it was.
Garrick stood up, frantically trying to approach the light to get to Noelle. He couldn’t let her go. He didn’t know what kind of trick this was. But he couldn’t let her go. He had to kill her. She couldn’t escape.
But he was too late. The light receded almost as quickly as it came. When he was able to fully see the scene before him, he felt a scream rip through him. She was gone.
She had gotten away.
Noelle was soaring. Flying through the sky. She saw the rainbow lights around her, the blue night sky twinkling with a thousand stars.
I’ve died. She thought with a smile. They can’t hurt me know. They can’t rape me. I’m sorry Daddy. Her and her father had made a promise. They would see each other again. But now she couldn’t keep her promise. He might not find out for years. Decades even. She was sad at that thought. Her poor parents.
Then the ride stopped. She fell through a doorway, the room gold and shinning. She hit the floor.
“Welcome to Asgard young lady.” A deep voice greeted her.
“Do you require assistance?”
She tried to nod. This is a dream. Or I’m dead and heaven exists. All her life, Noelle wanted to be in Asgard. Her blood longed for it, though she didn’t know it. It was her dream to go to Asgard. To be with her father. To be where she belonged.
“I have summoned the guard. You will be taken to the healing room. I have also notified the All-father. You are in good care.” She looked up to see her saviour, a dark skinned man in shinning gold armour, standing at attendance with a sword in his hands. She smiled at him. Or attempted one.
Then, she closed her eyes. She could rest now, knowing she was safe. Someone was going to take care of her. Even if she were dead, and didn’t need to be cared for anymore.
And it all went black.