Chapter 9Retreat

Home is where the heart is, so they say. At home, my heart didn't feel anywhere near, the anger had replaced it. My body was too tired to think of a warlock-hunt now, chasing after the one who soiled my body without permission. My clothes were mostly ruined, the coat perhaps repairable by sewing some buttons back on and fixing some seams, but I didn't care. It all went into the bin. It had served its purpose over time, escorting me many a night. The time had come. A short shower, enough to wash away most of the filth on the outside, was all that covered my body before I went to bed. My house felt empty, not because of loneliness but because I didn't feel well. Someone had forced control over me, had not allowed me to do what I needed. Even though my fingers tried to ease the pain a little, it had no effect. My mind was not in it.

Sleep came, a restless sleep.

Sunday morning arrived with little effort, the sun rising like always, yet hidden behind the gray clouds. Shades of red and orange prospered before the normal hues of day returned and the world was given back its light. Comforted by a fresh cup of coffee and a slice of home-made bread, my search began. First the name of the restaurant on the Internet. While there was a phone-book in my house, I rarely used it anymore. Why leaf through something when a simple search was so much easier. Two places in the city fit the name, both serving food, and only one was near the street I had been taken last night. Curious, I checked the news papers and on-line, but it was boring as usual. A quick search on the name of the restaurant served, apparently, no purpose. The place had a website, though it was severely lacking. Nothing more than an address and a generic picture of the outside. At least I would be able to recognize it and the style matched the lighter.

Baby steps, most of them tripped.

Then, something a little more difficult. Describing my assailant. Yesterday night happened quickly and, though my mind was fairly sharp most of the time, it took some effort to write it all down. Not just to remember him better, but to be absolutely sure that I could describe him to anyone else. Which brought me to another issue; just asking after a person that they, possibly, knew, would arouse too much suspicion. While wearing a disguise would lessen the effect, it still meant that people would remember 'a woman' asking for a specific person. Better would be if I acted like I knew him, but just temporarily forgot his name. You know, with the dark hair, strong body and brown-gray eyes. People can be surprisingly helpful if it seems like you already know the answer but are just asking for confirmation rather than information.

Social engineering.

It might have been solved by a phone-call, but that felt like a bad idea. It would mean a more direct trace to my persona, so I got my stuff together and did my make-up. Differently, of course. Rather than trying to look beautiful within a certain style, I was going for a very different effect. Instead of accentuating the beauty I had, it was hidden by accentuating it too much. Strong eyeshadow, too much blush, overdoing it. In the mirror, at least, it looked like a woman that desperately tried to impress whoever was looking at her and, because of that, was all the more forgettable. Exactly what I wanted.

Even though it shamed me a little to do it.

It was still too early to go into the restaurant as a customer, which wasn't necessarily bad. The story I would try to exhume without using specific words was that of someone who just stepped by looking for a guy she already knew for whatever 'silly' reason women need. It was important that I acted the part, appearing a lot stupider. This might seem easy, as such an act is often underestimated. But, with practice one will succeed. Wearing cheap clothes that were meant to look expensive, matching the make-up perfectly, I ventured back into the world, looking for my prey.

The one that had caught me first.

The Sunday roads were nice and empty. People probably too lazy to go outside or just enjoying their lovely day off. Many of them tired after the filled nights of debauchery in its many forms and shapes. Possibly. The ride calmed me more then the night had done, finally giving some much needed peace as the rage subsided marginally. This was not because time had passed, but because I was on a road to solve it. Every problem feels better once you start working on the solution. On my way.

After parking a little closer to where I was last night, my first step was to look at the street where it happened. The scene of the crime.

It was so different.

The street itself was still bleak with the many shops being empty and deserted, but the dark gleam was gone. Sunlight, having appeared from behind the clouds, brought back a bit of color to the scene, especially with the various curtains the houses displayed. The reflections of the light in the windows was pleasurable as well, playfully bouncing from one to the other side, causing odd interesting shapes on the ground, no matter what was underneath it. With my shadow constantly changing, every step almost forcing it to go in another direction, I felt even more like a ghost then I did before. Some of it, however, was rather miraculous to behold. My hands, no matter what direction they moved in, felt like a mime standing in the center of spotlights that followed it's every move. They were there, not to cast shadows on my left or illuminating my right, but to emphasize the importance of the strange being on the stage.

The alley was... Less different. Not exactly the same, but similar to what I knew. One of the buttons, torn off my coat last night, crunched beneath my shoe as I stepped. I tried to ignore it. An undefinable aura of expectancy hung in the air, perhaps for the memories to come rushing back, flashes to reappear. To allow me to relive it, or perhaps a different emotional reaction. But all I felt was the burning rage that had been there all the time, aimed at a single person. I couldn't remember ever having been this angry. There was nothing else that proved what happened here, nothing to be found. Move along.

So I did.

It was easy to find the restaurant now, having seen the layout of the area. The street where everything had happened was just one of those 'lost streets'. In between more important streets, rarely improved over the years. Desolate in location and design, both sides back to back, facing the more important. Those were the riveting roads, with lights, entertainment and color. Though calling them that exciting was a bit of a stretch. They were just places to be. Even at this hour it was a lot more lively than the street I just walked from. To my luck, the side of the restaurant was open with people doing whatever they had to do during the day. Very hard work, it would seem, as they were smoking a cigarette next to a stack of fruit that, probably, belonged inside.

Using a random and slightly unlikely name, it was possible to ask for the man I sought. They confirmed I was at the right place accidentally, using a newer copy of the exact same lighter in my pocket, but had no idea about the guy itself. Even among the more regular customers wasn't really anyone who fit the description. They talked back and forth, the two of them, but obviously not coming to a satisfactory conclusion. One would suggest a name, then the other would explain why it didn't fit. I smiled and asked if there was another establishment of the same name nearby, already knowing the answer. They displayed their honesty by confirming. Good.

But still a dead end.

It was time to admit defeat for now, there was nowhere else I could go without attracting quite a lot of suspicion. It would be easier to come here on a going out night and just asking some random people after this guy. Perhaps some women would know him by the description. It would be a painful and lengthy way to find him, but what else could I do? So, heading home had another reason as well, to retreat and rethink. Not very honorable, but practical nonetheless. And, I had to keep my head cool.

The rest of the day, after I removed the annoyingly thick layers of make-up, were spent deliberately relaxing with the aid of incense, a few ethereal oils, a nice cool shower and a long warm bath. While I liked to read or, at times, even to draw, while my body was relaxing. This time was just spent in silence. Noiselessness around me, quiet inside of me. A deep, relaxing calm.

It surprised me how much it was needed.

Evening had already come by the time my body was daintily dried and carefully cleaned. My seething rage had subsided somewhat so I could think more clearly. It didn't offer any better options yet, but my mind could release it for now, to get back to the coming week of work and mundane life. It was enough to get back to my normal self, shockingly realizing how much the whole thing had unhinged me. It had pulled my whole existence, which I thought perfectly under control, out of balance. Time to take back what was lost.

Sleep came much easier that night. Body and mind returning to form. Flirting fingers that could at last find and tease the right spots and exposing releases of eroticism that helped me get ready for the following day. Dreams were kind to me that night, flowing from one state to the other without any nightmarish elements. Parts of them were the repeats of earlier moments, but best of all was the feeling of me penetrating the flesh of the man who had taken me, raped me, in a slow and agonizingly perfect thrust. In those distorted colors of the mind, the red blood was flaming bright, shining and glowing where it oozed. And it did with almost impressive vigor.

First over my fingers, all the way down my hand, perfectly following the skin. Staying within the lines. The blood was thick and sticky, warm and welcome. It made me realize that I never did anything with the blood itself, as it was, like sperm, just a by-product of the process of procreation. From my hands it flowed over my arms, parting hesitantly to the ground from my elbows in separate drops. On the ground formed pool of living lava, glowing fiercely and changing the light and dark in the scene.

It was a nice dream.