A Shadowlander's Tale: The Lingering Shadows Within
Written by Kathryn K Williams
A few hours later Liz offered to take the two of us back to my place seeing as it was nearing closing hour. The manager knew the both of us, Beth and myself, personally so did not mind us staying around after closing, otherwise we would have been kicked out with the rest. I watched Beth sleep the whole while, responding to the occasion person's well wishes. It seemed that a lot of people were concerned about Beth and wanted to wish the girl well. I bet if a card store was opened at that late an hour someone would have ran off to buy a get well card for everyone to sign. I smiled at the notion of Beth waking up to a mound of cards surrounding her while she slept in a gay bar. That would have been a sight to see, but no cards came nor did Beth stir. Before long Liz called out Last Call and the patrons rushed to get their final drinks.
I've found the moment Last Call is called out that time slips by rather quickly. It usually meant that there was an hour until closing, but it usually felt like minutes. Tonight was not like that. I wished time and time again for Beth to awaken and give me that well known smile or even a groggy look, I did not care at that moment. I just wanted to see her eyes open and look at me just one more time before the night came to a close. No god seem to answer my prayers and the small amount of belief that I held on to slipped away like sand through an hour glass.
I finally got up from my spot and knelt down next to Beth. She looked so peaceful laying there. I watched for the rise and fall of her chest to make sure she was alive and let out a sigh of relief. Part of me feared the worse, that she had died in her sleep with me watching over her. I shakily reached out and brushed a lock of hair from the girl's face. She stirred ever so slightly, but did not wake up.
"Beth?" I whispered into the girl's ear, "It's nearly time to go." I hoped that maybe telling her it was closing time would awaken the girl, but again she slept on. Frustrated I got to my feet and went up to the bar, "Is there anything I can do to help out?" I inquired, feeling helpless and lost. I wanted something to do with my hands. Something that did not feel like I was doing nothing.
Liz glanced at me and gave me a weak smile, "Just stay with Beth and make sure she sees you when she wakes up." She stated with as much calm as she could muster, "I'll be done here in a sec and Julia said she would lock up after us so there is no problem."
"A... alright..." I turned back around to find Beth no longer laying on the couch. Only the blanket lay where she used to be, "Beth?!?" I glanced around the empty club to find the girl nowhere in sight. I spun back around to face Liz, "Liz, Beth is gone!!!" I exclaimed frantically.
"What?!?" Liz rushed around the bar, "Where could she have gone too?" She inquired anxiously.
"She couldn't have gone far." I rushed across the club, searching around every couch, "I was only gone a moment. She has to be here somewhere." I stated as I knelt to inspected every place she could hide.
"I'll search here." Liz stated then pointed to the back door, "You find out if she left." She commanded.
I sprung to my feet and rushed for the door, "Alright. I'm on it." I ran down the tiny corridor to the back stairs and took the two at a time. My foot landed on that unstable step and it broke loose beneath my weight sending me tumbling down the stairs, scraping my shin upon the sharp concrete steps. I ignored the pain and doubled my pace, avoiding the broken step, and using my hands to help me climb the winding stairwell. I had to find Beth and I hope that she did not leave this way. I got to the top just as Julia entered and I nearly collided with the woman. I grabbed onto Julia's parka for balance as I reached the top of the stairs and panted as I tried to catch my breath.
"Woah Brenda!" Julia grabbed hold of me in an attempt to keep me from falling back down those dreadful stairs, "What is the matter? What happened? Is it Beth?" She inquired fearfully.
I nodded frantically, "S... she is... gone..." I said between pants, "D.. Did she.. come this way?" I swallowed hard against the pain that was raising up from my leg. I could deal with the pain, I just needed to find Beth and make sure she was alright.
Julia shook her head, "No one has come this way in a while." She stated uneasily, "Why? Weren't you looking over her?"
I nodded, "I turned away for one moment and she was gone. She just disappeared..." I explained frantically.
"Let's see if she is back in the club." She was about to lead me towards the stair when she glanced down at my leg and sucked in a deep breath, "Brenda, What happened to your leg?" She exclaimed, pointing down at my leg.
I looked down to see that the lower half of my left pant leg was red with blood, "I must have hit my leg harder then I thought." I explained with a slight chuckle.
"We need to get you to a hospital." Julia stated seriously as she tried to lead me to the back entrance.
I grabbed the frame of the door, "I'm alright I tell you." I protested vigilantly, "We need to find Beth and I'm not leaving without her." I cried out.
Julia refrained from carrying me out of the club and let out a sigh, "Fine, but let me at least look your leg over when we get back to the club." She insisted.
"A.. alright." I was not one to refuse Julia when she insists upon something, but I could not go to the hospital just yet. I needed to know if Beth was alright first. Anyway, it was probably just a small scratch and nothing more. Boy was I so wrong, it would seem that I was on roll today.
Julia half carried me down the stairs and back to the club where she carefully set me down upon one of the couches and quickly tore at a small rip in my pant leg. It was far worse then anything I could have imagined. I had somehow managed to scrap a good portion of skin off my shin and the bone was visible in places. Blood oozed down my leg and onto my nice black shoes.
"We really need to get you to a doctor." Julia nervously wiped at her forehead, "This is more then I can handle." She glanced around for some help and spotted Liz coming back from the storage area, "Any luck?" She asked uneasily.
She shook her head sadly, "She isn't here anywhere." She stated miserably. She approached us and her eyes fell upon my wounded leg, "What happened?" She inquired worriedly as she rushed to my side.
"I slipped on that back step." I stated through a haze of pain, "You really need to tell your boss to fix those stairs." She remarked with a chuckle.
Liz shook her head at me in disbelief, "How can you be laughing at a time like this?" She inquired surly, "Beth is missing and you look to have a broken leg. I can't believe you at time." She seethed.
Julia got to her feet and held Liz off, "Don't yell at her." She stated calmly, "None of this is her fault and you know it."
Liz rubbed at her forehead in frustration, "I know... I know..." She paced a couple of time as she tried to think of what to do. I could see her mind working over the situation from where I sat and knew she would think of something.
The owner stepped down from the bar area, a large burly woman who only seemed to appear at the bar during closing hours, "Julie, I know you are worried about your friend, but maybe you should take Brenda to the hospital." She suggested collectedly, "We will keep an eye out for Beth, but right now Brenda is in need of attention."
"Al.. allright..." Liz agree and was about to head back to the bar when she stopped and glanced over at me, "I'll be right back... I just need to get my coat and keys." She stated before rushing off.
I leaned back against the couch and let out a sign. "I can't believe this is happening. I hope Liz's girl doesn't get angry with me for keeping her away for so long..." I muttered to myself.
Julia carefully applied a splint from a first aid kit, that the owner had handed her, to my leg and bandaged it the best she could, "You didn't hear?" She inquired softly.
I looked down at Julia and I tried hard to keep my eyes off my wound. Blood on other people I can handle. My own is another matter, "Hear what?" I asked curiously.
"Liz and Sarah..." Julia glanced around to make sure that Liz was still out of sight, "They broke up a month ago." She stated in but a whisper.
I gave the woman a curious look, "You sure that isn't a rumour. You know how rumours spread around this place." I reminded the woman, suspicious of this news.
Julia shook her head, "It's true." She stated softly, "I helped her moved out not long ago. They are quits."
A small smiled played across my face, then Liz appeared before me with her jacket in hand and a puzzled look upon her face, "What are you smiling about? Did Julia give you some pain killers or something?" She inquired curiously.
I shook my head, "No no." At that moment Julia fastened the bandage in place and sent a wave of pain through my system that made me keel over. I felt as if I was going to throw up that hamburger all over the floor at any moment.
Julia wrapped an arm around me and helped me too my feet, "Up you go." She heaved me partly onto her back and half carried me towards the front door. I scooped up my note book as we passed by it and held it close to my body, "Liz, could you bring your car around front?" Julia inquired lightly, "I don't think I could take her back up those stairs in her condition."
"Alright." Liz grabbed my coat and reached for Beth's, "Maybe I will leave Beth's incase she returns." She stated hesitantly.
"She will return." Julia assured, "There is no way she could have gotten out of here without my knowing it. We'll find her."
Liz took one last look around the club and then nodded, "I'll be around front in a second." She stated before running to the back of the club and out the door.
"Thanks Julia." I tried my best to use my good leg to keep some of my weight off the woman.
"No problem." Julia smiled, "What are friends for?" She stated as we moved passed the bar to a pair of large glass double doors. The owner opened the door for us and as we passed through those doors I wished once again that one day there would a time that the paper would be removed and I could enter without worry or shame. This thought drifted through my mind as I began to pass out from the pain.
I do not remember the trip to the hospital much. I remember being placed in the back of Liz's small white Acadian and being in pain as I tried to fold my leg into the tiny rear seat. But other then that it is was pretty much a haze. There was a hospital located right downtown so we did not have far to go, but I recall every bump hurting like hell and when we arrived Liz pulled up to the emergency doors and quickly jumped out of the car without even a word to me.
Within seconds the back door opened and I was being hauled onto a stretcher with Liz close to my side. I felt her hand encircle mine and I smiled up at her. She glanced down at me and squeezed my hand lightly. One of the nurse stopped Liz from going any further and I was almost certain I could see tears fill her eyes as she was refused to be with me. Those were tears, I'm almost sure of it. Could she really have feelings for me or were those just tears of concern for a dear friend? I would not be able to find out the answer until much later.
To be continued
Note: The world of the shadowlands, Its stories, Characters and ideas are a copyright of Kathryn K Williams.
This story is based upon my manga of the same name. If you wish visit my site and see some of the art based on this series at http://www.KatAndNekoManga.ca
Also if you spot any typos or other errors please contact me at Kathryn@KatAndNekoManga.ca