Sacrifice -Chapter 1-

June 3, 2013 in bestservedsoup, Sacrifice -ongoing- by BestServedSoup

“Man, I hate hospitals.”

Dawn stretched out, yawning in the distance ahead. Yuri grimaced as she was forced to drive with care along the curving highway. The car had jerked more than just a few times while she navigated the dark forest, and the fact that it did annoyed her. Stones and branches were plenty on the road, and the accompanying drumming of rainfall was not helping to improve the experience.

“Off to another town in the middle of nowhere. You’d think these killers would find a more subtle, accessible place to pull their murders off.”

Despite the avid approach of morning, the sunrise had, in truth, done nothing to brighten the area she was in. With the sheer density of trees towering and blocking off light, she’d be surprised if the full extent of the day could seem any more vivid than her cruddy, flickering headlamps lighting the way. She reached for her phone in the next seat, mildly unconcerned with the slippery corners ahead.

“Of course, that’d make it all too easy for the detective,” Yuri noted to herself. She began dialling on the phone passively as she fixed her eyes on the road. “There always has to be some crude modus operandi. Ah well, can’t really complain much about the change of scenery if it gets me away from the cramped city.”

As she finished tapping in the corresponding buttons, the phone whirred to life, spilling out long, regular beeps. Yuri placed the receiver to her ear and grinned as the chipper voice of a girl attended to the call.

“Hello?”

“Dear, are you still on for that discussion we had last night about Barney?”

“Is this Yuri?” Yuri could then feel an audible sigh emanate from the receiver. “This again?”

“Why not? I’ve got time to kill.”

“Aren’t you on a case right now? Don’t you have, like, documents to go over?”

“Driving, sweetie. Besides, I need a little exercise on my criminal profiling.”

The voice on the phone sighed again. “Fine.”

“Alright. Where were we?” Placing the phone in between her ear and shoulder, Yuri clasped both her hands on the wheel and began to turn it. The car swerved around a sharp corner and skidded slightly across the slippery surface.

“What was that sound?”

“Nothing, just the old engine sputtering bolts and rust is all.”

“Isn’t your car still new?”

“I think we left off at me saying something about him having a hurtful past?”

“Right,” the voice relented. “After he was born, he was raised by his mother and grew up without knowing the identity of his father. Mother told him he was the son to Bob Parker. That’s where you left off on.”

“Correct, and that lonely past of his is likely the reason why he’s erected this ‘awesome’ and confident exterior to hide the vulnerable interior. Remember Robin?”

“His girlfriend, yeah. But what does she have to do with anything?”

“Did you notice the way he goes back and forth with her in the show? He’s afraid of creating emotional attachment. The occasional outbursts he makes in private prove that he’s deeply concerned with his insecurities, especially his feelings for Robin.”

Silence. And then another sigh. “It’s a TV show, Yuri.”

“But he is still a viable case study, Yoona. Barney does have a writer and an actor. In many ways, the character is still human.”

“Right,” the woman named Yoona replied. “Whatever floats your boat. How far are you from the town?”

“I’ve been driving blind in the woods for some time now. If the town is as dreary and dull as I imagine it to be, then I should be closing in.”

“Sure,” Yoona responded, her tone barely stifling a yawn. “Look, it’s about 3 AM in the morning. I guess I don’t need to tell you to drive safe, but regardless…”

“Yeah.”

“Be safe, okay?”

“Listen, Yoona.”

“What?” she asked.

“Your voice is cutting out on me.”

“What?” The girl repeated, this time louder. “Are you really going to ditch me from the call?”

“I’m not ditching you, I’m losing coverage. Psssh, psssh.”

As Yoona began to speak up again in a clear outrage, her voice did indeed begin to break up. Static dropped in between the gaps and soon enough, the sound of the woman was no longer. A long beeping noise followed, signifying that the call had ended.

“Hm, what do you know,” Yuri said as she held the humming phone from her ear. “She fell for it.”

She put the phone aside and returned to the steering wheel. The narrow road seemed to go on forever, winding in difficult turns. It was the only hint of civilisation that she had seen in miles. Yuri recalled that Yoona had mentioned the time, and it reminded her that she had not been paid attention to it.

“3 AM, eh?”

If she had to go by approximation, she figured that she had been on the narrow, one-way path for about an hour or so. It had begun to rain when she had just turned the junction into the route.

The situation reminded her of a story her parents had once told when she was little. An old tale about a man, who had entered a demonic forest in the dark of night, searching for a girl who he had seen at dusk for three days straight. He had gone into the deepest parts where even in high noon, places shrouded in complete darkness were entirely common. Little did he know, a ghost lived in the forest and soon enough the ghastly spirit had cast a curse on him. His curiosity had doomed him, and he was forever trapped in the forest, haunted by the spirit of a girl who had mysteriously succumbed to death there. He was never being allowed to die of his own accord.

“Or so the tale goes,” she muttered. “The forest had some funny name given to it, but what was it?”

She slackened her tense arms as the car finally weaved its way into a straight path. She continued on, her foot steady on the pedal. Eventually, she eased into a more passive form of driving. She took her time to observe the eery and quiet forest. There was scarcely any noise that she could hear, apart from the humming of the engine paired along with the loud patter of raindrops against the windshield. She found her thoughts oddly preoccupied as the name of the place in the tale continued to elude her.

“Yoona worries too much,” she murmured out of the blue. “I’ll definitely be alright. Had my coffee and I’m wide awake.”

But despite her changing the subject, the old story remained in her head like an itch that had to be scratched. It puzzled her.

“I don’t normally get signs like this. Usually they’re just dreams.”

She blew into the air and felt a thin smile spread across her lips.

“Things just got interesting, eh? If only Yoona were here.”

From what Yuri could tell through the dense leaves and branches, the sun was rising even higher, yet didn’t do much for alleviate the dark atmosphere. The headlamps of her car flickered obtusely in the meantime, remnants from the last gas station when some punk had tried to vandalise her car and had fled when she came out for him.

“Darned headlights. I sure hope the town has a proper mechanic to fix these.”

And as they flickered, a flash of red appeared in the middle of the road amidst the fog. For a moment, time stopped, just long enough for Yuri to discern what she had just seen. It was a person, standing in a large raincoat as crimson as blood.

Yuri knew that she was driving too fast. She stamped the clutch and brake, spinning her wheel to the side as the red figure stood watching. The car swerved and slid in a circle as she tried to control the motion. Before she knew it, the car hit something with a hard noise, causing the vehicle to bob up into the air and fall to its side. It skid along dirt and grass, finally crashing into a nearby tree.

Yuri coughed as the car finally stopped its violent movements. She clutched at her aching head as a strong smell of humid air blew through from the broken window next to her. Apart from a few bruises on her body and a mild gash that bled from her forehead, there wasn’t much pain to cry home about. She was alright. She looked at the window, feeling the cold draft slowly lull her to her senses. She peered out and searched through the dim layout, her eyes in a daze, but nobody was to be found outside.

Yuri grunted. She began to unfasten her seat belt and her entire body ached as she did. It was stuck, but despite the increasing strain in her arm, she still believed that she could lodge it loose. Fire cackled somewhere, reminding her of the crisp warmth she had felt back home, but it wasn’t to be had here.

With a loud click, the seat belt came off. She sighed with relief and promptly edged herself to the door. Unlike with the seat belt, she was able to push the door aside without so much as a flimsy touch. The hinges came loose like pieces of unglued cardboard.

Though she pushed it open with relative ease, she struggled to pull her battered self from the wrecked car. Her body felt incredibly weak. She had taken two cups worth of coffee earlier but the crash had made the caffeine out to be ineffective, like preaching to a horde of drunkards.

As she came out, the rain pecked on her cheeks coolly. In a way the sensation was soothing, a gentle reminder of how she had scraped death and survived. The clouds above seemed to fade, bringing a more saturated colour to the forest. Even so, the rain had not seemed to shift in its tempo at all. Bit by bit, her surroundings flickered with the ever same amount of water.

She inhaled deeply as her eyes set out to the road ahead.  For as far as she could see within the dense fog, the road extended in a straight line and eventually dipped away into the mist. At its side, not too far from the remains of her car was a big wooden framework, its surface rough and weary. To Yuri’s amusement, it was a sign that read simply as, ‘Welcome to Spring Falls.’

“Sounds about right,” she muttered to herself. “I’m impressed that they couldn’t sound even more generic.”

Despite the fact that the sign looked several decades old, it still meant that the town couldn’t be too far off. She estimated that she could reach her destination within the next kilometre or so. She inched a hand down to her hip, and pulled out her standard issue pistol from the holster.

“No need for safety,” she said as she clicked the safety pin off. “We have a suspect in the vicinity, and the appropriate measure for anyone who approaches in the middle of nowhere without calling out beforehand is to shoot to kill.”

She paused and turned to survey her surroundings, almost swearing that she heard something. From a glance it was obvious that the mysterious person in the raincoat had fled long ago, and the fact that there weren’t any clear traces made her both agitated and nervous.

Eventually, she began to walk. It was a slow walk. She limped, slight pain surging with each step from her left leg. Her coat and the clothes underneath began to soak, and the weight of the water began to deter her. Nevertheless, she kept wary of the forest and its inhabitants, reminding herself of the one soft chuckle that was constantly within her earshot, mingling amidst the pitter-patter of the dreadful rain. Perhaps she was imagining it, but one could never be too careful.