A dark room grew slowly lighter through the cracks of a blackout curtain. The room was filled with many curious items; a toppled picture frame showcasing a smiling couple holding a baby girl; two intricately designed swords hung from the wall, one silvery with a warm sun hanging off its hilt, the other demonically dark with a streak of purple down its center. The room had a woman’s touch to it, from its flowery baseboard around the room to the makeup and perfumes that sat on a small nightstand. But only a man slept in the rooms queen-sized bed.
Nathan woke up as a stray beam of sunlight hit him. His alarm wasn’t scheduled to go off for another half hour. Cursing himself for not buying a second curtain he groggily rolled to his side and stared at the empty bed next to him. It had been three years since someone slept next to him yet he still didn’t have the courage to take up the whole bed. After more moments passed, he got up, got dressed and instinctively put on his little golden wedding ring and a silver heart shaped locket; as usual the locket felt like it was pulsing as he put it on, even after having it for years he couldn’t figure out why. Work wouldn’t start for another two hours but he had spent the night before thinking about an article he was writing; it even invaded his dreams that night. He left the room taking a glance towards a door to his right. He jiggled the handle quickly making sure it was still locked and continued on his way.
Skipping breakfast, he found his way outside. Standing between him and his sleek silver car was a scruffy vagrant Nathan had come to know well. Sammy wore an overly large coat Nathan gifted him two years prior, his shoes were patched and balding in several places. His face formed into a grand grin just like any other morning.
“Nathan good to see you!” He boomed.
Nathan returned the smile. “Morning Sammy, the usual then?” He asked fishing for his wallet.
“Only if you can now!” Sammy said unconvincingly. “You and the misses have been good to me. Don’t want to put you out of house and home now!”
With a curt laugh, Nathan plucked five dollars from his wallet and handed it over.
Sammy held it out to the sun as if checking if it was a fake before kissing it and stuffing it in his coat pocket. “God bless ya, Nath, tell the missus I send love.” He said before strolling down the block whistling.
He watched Sammy until he turned a corner; more than likely looking for someone else to ask for money. Nathan was used to that encounter now; he had known Sammy for several years. The old man never asked for much and five dollars twice a week wasn’t a huge sacrifice to him. He still talked as if he saw Alice regularly but Nathan never had the heart to correct him. With his mood slightly lifted he got in his car and pulled off.
Vreport was a large city with an unusual name for a landlocked city, it was known for its many delicacies, and how easy it was to navigate traffic on an average day. Unfortunately for Nathan, it wasn’t the average day, traffic went to a standstill and with only the blaring of horns to look forward to he turned on the radio. He listened to a rapper rapping about a woman named Lucy seducing him with promises of treasures and wealth for a while. He never liked rap, it was much more Alice’s thing; he couldn’t find anything else after surfing, so he switched it off to daydream.
Outside he saw the spectacular orbit tower, the city’s pride. At one hundred and six stories high it was the tallest building in the city and host to the umbra corporation; one of the largest tech companies in the world. Nathan couldn’t help smiling at the building, he once dreamed of working there even though it was a far cry from his current job. They had created many modern technological marvels over the years from artificial reality rooms, to what was rumored to be a true A.I. that morning though he was only thinking about his interview with Umbra’s C.E.O Joseph Crane.
His smile faded though as his eyes wandered up the tower, a girl sat on one of the skyscrapers many edges miles above him. She was dressed in funny clothing from head to toe; a frilly red dress he thought made her seem childish; black and white striped knee socks that made her look like she belonged in Beetlejuice, and her hair had a strange pink tint to it. Even more curious he thought he saw her sporting a small pointed tail flicking around her back.
For a moment it appeared she was staring directly into his car when a darker thought strolled over him. She’s not going to jump, is she? He thought frantically. Without thinking he grabbed his phone to call the police but when he looked up again the girl had gone, if she had ever been there in the first place. He rubbed his eyes quickly, he assumed he was just tired but looked around more before being brought back to reality by a horn behind him. The cars in front of him had moved forward considerably.
He arrived at Luckybeat an hour later and strolled inside hoping to get right to work. As he entered a small woman behind a large desk tapped away at her computer.
“Sophia,” Nathan said with a nod.
Sophia raised her eyes slightly and returned the gesture. After this small exchange he went to his cubicle making greetings or nodding to people as he went. His desk was small and not overly decorated; the only thing he owned was a small plant, a gift from his coworker Chloe.
He was booting his computer up eager to get to work when a yell came from across the room.
“Nathan!” Chloe called in a friendly tone.
“Morning Chloe,” Nathan said exasperated. He unhunched his shoulders and looked around hoping no one was bothered by her yell. Unlike him though the rest of the office was used to her infectious enthusiasm. Her hair was in twisted curls that fell around her face that morning but that was subject to change bi-monthly.
“I heard about the article your writing, Umbra, right? How’d you manage an interview with them? They’re usually so secretive.”
He stared at her curiously. No one was supposed to know about the interview yet. If anyone else had asked him he would have suspected an alternative motive. He wished she hadn’t said it so loud as he saw heads turn their way.
“It was odd, I don’t know what made me do it but I reached out to them and Joseph himself responded to me,” He said recalling the tale.
A chair kicked out towards Nathan and spun around. Its owner stared aghast at Nathan. The man in the chair was tall and lanky, with kempt dark brown hair.
“You got an interview with Joseph Crane?” Oliver said as if it was a joke. “The same Joseph Crane who refused an interview with Time?”
Nathan scrunched his nose. He resented being thought a liar but he understood why. Joseph was a specter, he rarely made public appearances and to Nathan’s memory had never given an interview. Even days after he still didn’t know what possessed the man to agree to it.
“I’m doing the prewrite right now, Emily approved it two days ago.” Nathan said pleasantly.
“This is big Nathan! What are you doing to celebrate?” Chloe asked quickly.
Nathan saw a wild glint in her eye. He had heard tales of the wild nights of drinking and debauchery she took their coworkers on. After one such night, their boss Emily wasn’t seen in the office for three days.
“I was just gonna chill at home,” Nathan said awkwardly. “There’s so much I have to do to prepare for this after all.”
“Chloe smiled mischievously. “I’ll get you one day Nathan, you’re one of the last ones on my list.” She said walking back to her desk.
“Well good job Nath,” Oliver said with a forced smile. “A lots riding on this don’t fuck it up.” He spun back to his desk and lowered his head.
Ignoring Oliver’s back-handed compliment Nathan got back to work, ready to prove himself.
The day went by fast without any major distractions. It was still bright and sunny when Nathan finally got back home. As he stepped out of his car he felt the strange sensation that something was off. He couldn’t put his finger to it, though it felt as if he was being watched. Before he could look around he heard a small screech from around the side of the house.
The side of the house the noise originated from was draped in shadow, he couldn’t see anything that could have made the sound. Everything looked normal besides a broken window; the glass was smattered with blood and feathers. He looked inside and saw a large red hawk struggling to breathe.
“The hell?” He said. He had never seen a red-tailed hawk in real life, he didn’t think they were native to the area. Even if they were there was no reason the bird should have smashed into his window. Worst was the room it chose to fly into. Given the option he would have never entered the room again. But he couldn’t leave the bird to rot.
Deciding to get it over with quickly he went back to his bedroom. He stumbled around looking for the room key before remembering Alice had always kept it because he wanted to forget the room existed at all.
He grabbed open Alice’s nightstand drawer and found the key along with a curious business card. After Alice had to go away he tidied her things himself, the card had never been in the drawer.
Holding the card up to the light he read: Umbra Corp.
And there we have it chapter two! We got to learn a little about the protagonist, see what his daily life is like and see a little bit of how he connects with the mysterious company Umbra.
I hope you like what you saw today another chapter coming next week of course. If you did like what you saw why not like and follow to be updated when a new chapter releases?
Anyways a new chapter will be released next Monday April 27th, A new review Friday April 24th and perhaps a little surprise something this weekend if something comes to me again. Until then take care of yourselves.
Featured image found at https://game-icons.net/ under (CC BY 3.0) no changes were made.