I was walking on the Brooklyn Bridge, the sky above me a black velvet blanket that was tinged with orange the closer it got to the horizon. There were no stars, not here with the city of New York right in front of me. The buildings acted like stars instead, their lights blurred and out of focus like Photoshop bokeh effect.
Though it wasn’t snowing, the bridge was covered in a light dusting of pure white snow. I was only wearing my jeans and a thin Slayer hoodie and yet wasn’t cold at all.
Everything around me was silent. There were no cars and there were no people. The river below didn’t lap and the sounds of the city didn’t carry. The snow was a blank sheet of paper except for the one set of tracks that cut down the middle.
I knew those footprints – made by boots – like I knew the back of my hand. They were what I had been searching for all this time. Why I was here.
I walked on, slowly, hearing the snow squeak beneath my Chuck Taylors. Suddenly the footprints veered off to the side of the walkway and stopped. I followed them and looked over the side to where the cars should have been driving past heading into the city.
There was a man standing at the side of the lanes, looking out at the Hudson River. I couldn’t see anything but his shadowy back, but I knew it was him.
“Dex!” I yelled after him. But he didn’t move. He didn’t turn around.
I yelled again. I knew it was him. Why wasn’t he listening? Just how long had we been apart?
I was so tempted to take off my shoe and chuck it at him but decided I’d probably miss. Instead I took in a deep breath and managed to climb over the edge of the walkway and onto one of the metal beams that spanned above the lanes. Somehow I was able to balance perfectly, like a tightrope walker, as I made my way across. When I was near Dex, I lay down on my stomach and then slid off the edge of the beam, hanging in the air like a child from monkey bars for a few seconds before I let go.
I landed with a soft thud, my knees aching from the impact. It was a long drop and I was surprised that I had even done it to begin with but there was no time to question anything.
I ran up to him and put my hand on his arm, my fingers wrapping around his elbow, afraid to let him go ever again.
He didn’t turn to look at me. He didn’t move. He didn’t make a sound.
I pulled back at him hard, panic coursing through me. What was going on?
He was immovable, stuck to the cold white ground.
“Dex?” I whispered and walked around him. He was staring forward at the inky water, his face startlingly handsome with his high cheekbones and strong jaw flanked by light facial hair. But he was pale as snow and his eyes were so dark they rivaled the sky. His expression was strangely blank and the wisps of his shaggy black hair swayed lightly in the breeze.
He wouldn’t look at me, wouldn’t acknowledge me. I wasn’t even sure if he was real or a wax figure. I watched him, feeling the horror rising from deep within me, wondering if he was even breathing.
“That’s not Declan,” a smug voice from behind me said. I jumped and whirled around to see…no one.
I looked up and saw a man in a business suit standing on the beam above me. The ends of his blazer flapped in the breeze and his face was obscured in shadow.
Still, I knew who he was. Every bone in my body told me who this was. I had met him before.
“What’s wrong with him?” I asked the man. I grabbed Dex’s hand, squeezing it and staring into his face, trying to get a reaction, to get something out of him. He didn’t even blink. He was just still, his eyebrow ring glinting from the city lights. This was Dex, my Dex, my man, my love, my fiancé. This was him. I knew him better than I knew myself.
Then what was wrong with him? I couldn’t have traveled all this way to have failed in the end. I was supposed to bring him home.
“There is nothing wrong with him,” the man said from above. “He’s better now. He’s buried down below where he belongs.”
I looked up at the man, feeling his hateful eyes upon me. They shone like nickels in the shadows and my stomach steeled itself in protest. This man evoked nothing but primal fear in me.
“What did you do to him?” I whispered. My eyes flitted over to Dex again and I could only shake my head, no. This was Dex.
“The same thing I will do to you and your sister and your mother,” he said.
My breath caught in my throat and when I finally exhaled, it came out painfully cold. Glowing embers began to fall from the sky, turning to ash as soon as they hit my skin. It burned and the snow sizzled.
“What?” I managed to ask, feeling myself slowly being drained of strength.
He grinned at me and his teeth glowed white. “You’ll find out soon enough.”