“Sebastian!” Bursting forth from the wooded forest a great white horse rode against the wind towards him. Leaping on its back, he grabbed hold of its mane and sped towards the distant hills. The night was fast approaching but he was determined to reach the great hall beyond the mountains before sunset.
Coming upon a river running alongside their path he paused for his horse to take a drink. He surveyed the land ahead. It was not much further. A loud rumbling caught his attention and he instinctively drew his sword. His horse became restless and before he had a chance to settle Sebastian, the earth gave way. He fell to the ground and without a moment’s hesitation gave his horse the command to flee. The earth was quickly sinking and water began to rush over him. He felt something pulling at his legs dragging him under the water then suddenly release him. His arms burned as he flailed and fought to keep from drowning.
Strong currents pulled him closer to the bottom and he fought against the force of the river, feeling his lungs about to burst. A bolt of lighting shot out of the sky and he felt the pain screaming with agony down his left shoulder. Blackness swallowed him and when he thought death would finally claim him, he heard a loud bang. His eyes flew open and he awoke gasping for air.
Covered in a sheet of cold sweat with the blankets tightly knotted around him, he waited until his breathing returned to normal and his surroundings to slowly come into focus. Looking around the room to find the source of the noise that had caused him to awake with such a shock his eyes rested on the cordless phone lying on floor next to a pair of old sneakers.
The huge window above the nightstand greeted him with a sultry wintry evening growing darker still by the hour, reminding him he had slept much longer than he wanted to. He viewed the brightly lit city below which gave the appearance of a kingdom sprinkled with gemstones and watched the snow as it whipped around in all directions. The force of the descending brightly coloured crystals combined to form blinding white blankets of snow as it swept across the landscape. A winter storm was approaching.
Sitting up he rolled to the edge of the bed leaned over and placed his head in both hands with his elbows resting on his knees waiting for the annoying throbbing in his head to go away.
After what seemed like a long time, he got up and sauntered down the hall towards the bathroom. After a quick shower, he donned jeans, socks and a thick brown woolly sweater then headed down the long hallway to the kitchen.
He switched on the coffee maker reached into the cupboard and retrieved a large mug with an “I love New York” logo, one of his favourites, and stood very still waiting for the light on the coffee maker to turn red. After pouring himself a cup of coffee, he sat down on the stool at the kitchen table and released a heavy sigh. Hugging the cup in both hands, he leaned his head over the steamy vapours and breathed in its aroma before finally taking a small sip of the hot brew.
He could not remember what he was supposed to do this evening but he had the feeling it was something very important. As night was fast approaching, he decided he should get moving. With great effort, he got up from the kitchen table and walked to the kitchen sink to deposit his mug in the sink before heading towards the expansive living room.
Retrieving the television remote securely jammed in a deep crease in the rich mahogany leather couch he switched on the television which covered most of the east wall of the apartment.
His body suddenly became tense. Slowly he sat on the couch, leaned back, and looked up at the ceiling trying to make some sense of it, hoping it was a result of an overtired mind. He tried to tell himself they were just rumours and myths buried by years of forgotten memories of long ago. Stories made up by those who loved to entertain.
Gathering his energy, he threw on his winter jacket, boots and gloves and hastily left the apartment.
Once outside he crossed the street and headed downtown. He knew his destination and forced himself to walk determinedly against the blowing snow. He leaned heavily into the wind walking on the roads to avoid slipping on the sidewalk slick with ice and heavily laden with snow. The blinding snow made progress painfully slow and hampered each step.
The roads were bustling with noisy traffic, streets lined with shoppers looking at elaborate window displays before going in to make their purchases, teens hanging out with their friends, diners packed with couples enjoying evening meals and children laughing and playing on the high snow banks. No one seemed mindful of the blowing snow and chilly winds, nor were they aware of the impending danger.
Finally, the twenty-story building loomed ahead. What seemed like hours, his hands finally came to rest on the front gates. Then just as suddenly, he forgot all about the snow storm when he was greeted by the real chill of the night.