Ms. Lestrait and Ms. Hughson were walking around the park. September begun, rainy, moody; everything around began to turn grey and cover itself with some kind of fluffy coldness. Women's favourite bench was warm and cosy during summer and spring days, but now, though the rains did not yet started, it seemed cold and wet, barely seen in miserly sun rays, barely peeking out from under intense veil of haze. The grass, though not yet covered with frosty crust, crunched underfoot, as thin shavings. Women shake skirts eagerly from nonexistent drizzle, wrinkled their noses, quietly complaining about the weather.
Ms. Lestrait was seventeen years older than Ms. Hughson, and proudly considered herself this young ladies matron. It with her typical biases, she explained how the world works, gave advices about men (not forgetting to criticize them after every sentence), and told how to find a suitable husband. Ms, Hughson listened, but out of politeness, probably inherent to all Catholics of her age, rather than because she believed her friends authority. As Ms. Hughson thought, Ms. Lestrait was just unfortunate to meet a man, who didn't pay enough attention to her at first, and then decided to run away; so now Ms. Lestrait considers herself smarter and wiser than any other woman.
Cold wind suddenly blew straight to their backs, carrying yellow leaves to and a couple of white feathers to women's feet. Raising her shoulders and puffing out her cheeks, Ms. Lestrait said:
'What an awful weather.'
Ms. Hughson nodded, though she considered autumn a charming time. But she didn't want to bother her friend with her own conclusions.
The park was almost empty, and it bothered Ms. Hughson. She considered scary the thought that there were no other people for hundreds of yards, except her and Ms. Lestrait.
The wind blew again, playing with younger women's blue skirt and her friends brown skirt.
Ms. Lestrait frowned.
She scolded. And not just because of weather. Ms. Lestrait wasn't really s superstitious, fearful or suspicious person, but right now the tree shadow behind seemed very ominous. She wanted to turn around to make sure that the trees were only the trees, and there's nothing wrong with the grove, and it is only the clouds and sudden winds are playing tricks with her. But she didn't want to seem frightened in front of Ms. Hughson and spoil their reputation.
That's why Ms. Lestrait decided to wait for another gust. She would growl and turn around, giving the wind the stern look, as if trying to tame the weather, and meantime would make sure the grove was just a normal groove. She had to wait at least for a minute, for which Ms. Lestrait had time to get angry, and then forgive herself for silly thoughts. The next gust was quite strong - it almost stole an expensive hat from her head. The woman grabbed it with her bony white fingers, and turned her face toward the wind, muttering:
'What the hell?'
Her eyes watered because of the cold wind, and the woman blinked rapidly, wiping tears from her eyes. When the wind stopped blowing, she frowned and pressing up her full lips, staring at the trees. The grove looked ominous for a few more seconds. Then the trees creaked, a dry twig snapped, as if greeting her, and Ms. Lestrait realized it was no more then just a dense plantation of park trees. Mystical cold had released her. Branches did not turn into the gnarled hands, red eyes did not look out of the dense shadows, no monsters were hiding in the roots. Ms. Lestrait grunted and turned away.
'Come on, MaryAnn. - She commanded. - We're just wasting our time!'
Ms. Hughson trotted after her disgruntled friend, wondering where Ms. Lestrait will lead her instead of their traditional morning stroll through the park. Cold wind swept to their feet a fluffy white feather.
Ms. Lestrait stood at the mirror. It was January; the windows were tightly shuttered for the first time in thirty-eight years of her life. She stood at the mirror naked, but without feeling any cold, and just looked at herself. She thought she was even paler then before. Paler than any other English woman of her age should be. And she now had wrinkles. It seemed these wrinkles have appeared not only on her face, but on her entire body. And she had lost weight. She became even more thin and gaunt then she was before. Ms. Hughson did not comment this out of her courtesy, and Ms. Lestrait was inordinately grateful for that. As in the mirror she saw an emaciated old woman, but not a blossoming lady she used to be three months ago.
How hard Ms. Lestrait tried, she couldn't remember when the first white feathers came.
The woman sighed, turned off the lamp and went to the window to check whether the curtains are drawn tight enough. She stood at a great distance from the curtains, as if she was afraid that they will turn on her and strangle. The window was closed as tight, as was possible, even the strongest winter wind couldn't move the old shutters. Heavy dark-green fabric enveloped the window with thick folds, twisting on the floor like a lean snake. The room did not get even the slightest ray of light... though, the lamp lights outside could hardly reach the third floor.
Sighing the way the sick man does it, Ms. Lestrait climbed into her bed. Her man left her a long time ago, the place nearby was always free, so she could let herself to sleep naked, bypassing the limits of decency, at least in her own bedroom. Lying down exactly over a tucked between thin mattress hot-water bottle, she pulled the blanket to her very chin and closed her eyes. She decided to think about something warm and bright. About the summer, full of scenting flowers, yellow sunlight, fluttering butterflies and singing birds. Her imagination was so strong that she almost transported into this wonderful time, drowning with these memories the howling wind and snow creaking outside.
Ms. Lestrait woke up out of sense of panic that engulfed her. She could not tell what time it was, but it was surely past midnight. The woman thought that she felt this terrible emotion because of this dream she had, which she had forgotten before she even opened her eyes. But then she noticed something. She noticed a thin slit in the curtains which she missed. The light, reflected from the snow and viscous thick darkness of the skies were seen through it. Ms. Lestrait gasped and pulled her blanket up, almost covering her head with it. Something rustled and clicked outside. The panic has gone. In the curtain slit she saw something white falling down. Any other man would say it was snow, but Ms. Lestrait knew it was this damned white feather.
March was more dark and gloomy than the Londoners could remember. The sun barely peeked out from the thick black clouds, a disgusting drizzle, - not fog already, but yet not a rain, - hung in the air. The citizens complained and grumbled, cursed nature and waited for summer. It seemed that even the nature around, - as much of it, as it could be in an industrial London, - was hiding from this weather. Cats prefer cosy and relatively dry basements, or windowsills of homes of the lucky ones, who lived with frail ladies. Pigeons preferred to walk around the parks, where there was enough food, rather then streets. Even the horses 'services' were more or less 'abandoned', as they slipped on wet roads constantly. Only stray dogs didn't care about the weather. They ran through the streets, unable to get enough of the warm weather and the humans around, who would throw them some food from time to time. They did not complain about the weather. They and Ms. Lestrait.
Ms. Hughson was surprised. She had spent the whole winter with her friend, so she barely noticed Ms. Lestrait turned more pale and skinny, but she couldn't miss the changes in her mood. Ms. Lestraits eyes blackened, she turned to any whisper, didn't talk much, taught less, and behaved as if someone was hunting her, some kind of a Devil, in which Ms. Lestrait, of course, didn't believe. Despite the fact that she preferred privacy, the woman had chosen crowded places, where there would be more people to see her, but lately Ms. Lestrait had started to feel insecure there as well.
Ms. Hughson, who at last looked prettier then her older friend, tried to find out what is wrong in a discreet way, but apparently Ms. Lestrait forgot how to understand the hints, and couldn't figure out what does the younger woman want from her. She stared blankly at Ms. Hughson, who was too polite to ask the questions directly, blinked, as if it would help her to hear more clearly, and wrapped in her shawl tightly.
There was something wrong with Ms. Lestraits soul. Some feeling haunted her, some delusion, some kind of a ghost. Every day she felt someone's cold look at herself. This look was so intent that her skin hurt (she even looked at the mirror for he first days, trying to find the wounds on her back and shoulders left by this sight). And every time she felt the sight of this silent unknown observer, she seemed to sense his breath. Her body covered with sweat, and it seemed like if he hung over her shoulder, breathing into her ear, and in a moment he would tell her... something. She couldn't understand what. The devil didn't want anything from her, he never talked, he never left letters with threats, he did not steal her underwear, didn't turn over the house, didn't break the windows, didn't pick locks. He just... was there. Just watched. Silent, invisible, intangible and simply unknown. But he was there. Ms. Lestrait was sure. There was not a shred of evidence that there was someone following her; appearing everywhere, where the Ms. Lestrait was, whether a street, a shop, theatre, her house, Ms. Hughsons house... Few times, to have a good sleep, despaired Ms. Lestrait stopped in a brothel, in a poor shack, and even the mine. But he found her. And the only evidence of his presence was a pair of snow-white, fluffy, like if a young pigeons, feathers.
Many would say this is insane. She, herself, thought she was insane the first few days, and was really thinking to have an appointment with Dr. Hubert, who had given her an incredible support after her man left. But every day she felt this presence, this cold look at itself, full of emotions, which neither Ms. Lestrait nor any other person on this planet could not realize, she ensured: this chaser exists, he is real, though invisible and elusive, and she - she not crazy. She just could notice him, and these simpletons and ignorants could not. They can not be trusted.
Ms. Lestrait was afraid of one thing. That if she'd tell anyone about this stalker being, who left feathers behind, she'd be thrown to the asylum. It meant she'd be permanently locked in a tiny room, where she'd never be safe from the stalker with his unknown intentions. He would be able to stand at her window every day and every night, watching her with this cold gaze, and she could neither escape nor hide from him. And no one would help her, thinking she was crazy. But Ms. Lestrait was not crazy. No, not her.
She walked down the street so quickly that Ms. Hughson could hardly keep up behind the woman wrapped in a shawl because of which she no longer looked like elegant lady, but more of a hungry beggar, who was scowling at each passerby. Every each one of them would not believe her. The grey wet dog ran past with brown eyes that sparkled with joy. This dog would not believe Ms. Lestrait as well. Otherwise it wouldn't run down the street so happy, knowing that some demon haunts a lonely defenceless woman. That's the problem. There was no one to protect Ms. Lestrait. Though there was nothing to protect her from. Well, except for the looks.
The meat trades was looking at her as well, smiling broadly and showing is crooked teeth. He had a different sight in his eyes. He had a human sight. The woman passing by had a human sight too. Full of contempt, disgust, but the human one. It was even warm. The children in shabby coats had friendly and cheery sights, full of curiosity and interest. The sights of people around were warm, and they replaced the sun for Ms. Lestrait at the moment.
As it turned out, this warmth was not for long. It all started with the fact that the city noise suddenly became more resonant, as if London was drowned in water, and all the noises were now hared through its thickness. Then, with a loud heart beat and a dope struck in her head, Ms. Lestrait felt something disgusting, like if some kind of warm and sticky mucus was running down her back and her neck, so she wanted to rip her coat off and try to whip it. Ms. Lestrait started to panic. She imagined that breath in her ear again, felt the flow of these demons emotions - incomprehensible and inhumane - and his physically tangible sight. She imagined his eyes yellow, with narrow thin cat-alike pupils, staring at her with a bloodthirsty of Indian tigers. Ms. Lestrait started trembling. She caught her breath and turned around, trying to see her pursuer. Yes, yes, she will notice him, remember him, shout, scream, tell the police to catch him, and when he is caught, he would have to explain why in an Earth he walks behind her heels nearly six months; she'd glance in his ugly dirty face and ask what he wants, why he follows her, and how he knows where she is.
Perhaps Ms. Lestrait said something or even murmured. People, walking past her, avoided her, a woman who stopped to inspect the crowd of Londoners in search of someone who was looking at her. Almost everyone gazed at her, but none of these people had those unknown emotions, that this monster poured on her through his terrible eyes.
Ms. Hughson was saying something. It seems, she called Ms. Lestrait by name, and tried to ask what happened, but through this haze her voice was strange, unintelligible, incomprehensible, and, frankly speaking, Ms. Lestrait didn't even want to listen to her.
And then the colours began to fade. Ms. Lestrait understood that not only the sounds were now booming, but the colours and shapes blurred and paled. It seemed only the people started to fade. Like if something was helping her to see the monster who was watching her. But as hard she tried, she could not see. Despair mixed up with panic and covered the woman. She felt like crying, and could not resist this urge. Not when an invisible demon is following her again.
The crowd, bypassing her, had formed a circle around Ms. Lestrait and Ms. Hudson, who did not dare to come closer as well. The woman sniffed and looked up to the sky, about to curse God, in whom she did not believe, that he unleashed a wild beast at her, when suddenly her eyes caught something strange. Something both dark and shining on the penultimate floor of a building nearby. Something, because of which the heart jumped, and even seemed to stop beating for a few seconds, leaving squeezing pain in the chest. She turned her head to the object; her uncombed hair fell over her face, sticking to her wet with tears cheeks. Ms. Lestrait didn't have time to see what it was. She saw some dark shadows, a pair of big shining like two lamps white eyes, and a handful of glowing white feathers. Like a plague doctor sitting on a wall, carrying a bunch of goose feathers on his back. And then the thing had gone. No, it didn't vanish, but Ms. Lestrait had barely glanced at it, when it quickly climbed to the roof, like a cat climbs the tree, and disappeared with the clacking sound of a flying dragonfly or a flock of small birds. At that very moment all those feelings, that embraced Ms. Lestrait, had gone. The city noises became pronounced once again; the panic receded; the human figures became clearer, and no one watched her any more. She breathed deeply, trying to calm down, and watched how a few white feathers from this creature back were falling down to her feet.
Ms. Lestraits breathing was intermittent, as if she was seriously ill, and her face white as a blanket, but she still looked better than a moment ago, and Ms. Hughson dared to come closer. The younger woman looked the same direction her friend was looking.
'What was that? - She asked trying to see what attracted such attention. She saw a few white feathers falling. - A pigeon?'
Pigeon, the Stalker
One of my three monsters.Pigeon chooses his 'victim' which he stalks, watching it. His motive is unknown... well, un-understandable to people, as he has different feelings and emotions. He needs to stalk someone, watching the 'victims' life: walking, talking, showering, eating, dressing, sleeping, which more often drives people insane (it depends, though, as some people are more sensitive and panic over Pigeon, some are less sensitive, so they become irritated or have no emotions about it at all). The most important thing for him is to remain unseen. If for some reason, on purpose or accidentally his 'victim' notices him, Pigeon gets scared and leaves the person alone. How he chooses 'victims' remains unknown, but if not detected, Pigeon can stalk a person to death. And then find another one to stalk.
Pigeons meaning of life, his intend and desire is to find Rubra, which is kind of hard, as he can't either live without stalking people. So he's looking for Rubra only in those periods of time when he had left his first 'victim' and did not yet found the next one.