I'm a hero who saved the world. That's what I keep telling myself. I fought vampires and demons with my super powers. I had a friend who was a witch, and a lover who was a vampire. My sister was a ball of energy and my mother died of an aneurysm. That's when a blood vessel bursts in your brain and kills you.
I know it's all true, no matter how crazy it sounds.
I fell through a shiny portal after fighting a hell god and ended up here. In a Chicago where the demons wear human faces but can hurt you just the same. There's Snickers bars, Starbucks, and Christian Bale, but no Sunnydale, no vampires, and no slayers. Three years ago I woke in a dark alley with broken bones and bruises and no slayer powers to help me.
Teller used to say that even God couldn't fight the demons in Chicago. That he took a boat across the lake because there were too many of them, and they were always out to hurt you. But Teller is gone now, taken by the Forresters, the pretend parents who used you until you were eighteen, then threw you out onto the streets to die.
There isn't much traffic tonight, so I have to wait. It's dark and I'm cold, but I know I won't have to wait long. I have to pick the right one. A small car or a slow one might not do enough damage. I need a truck driving fast. The wind is biting and my leg hurts.
I've been in this world three years, this crazy upside down Chicago with its demons who drive SUVs and heroes who are tossed out of hospitals and left to tend their own wounds. It's hard here. Back home things made sense, even though it was a fairy tale kind of sense. The demons had demon faces and the heroes had super powers. The heroes fought them and won, not always without cost, but they always won in the end. Here, the demons turned into druggies and whores. I can't fight them because I have no powers, but there are ways to survive. You just have to know how to spot the demons, and how to get the Angels to help you.
A station wagon was coming down the road, but it was driving too slowly, and the young woman driver was being too careful. I hope she has her doors locked and doesn't stop at any traffic lights. That's where the Jackers get you. The Jackers like young women especially. They beat them and take their cars and sometimes do a lot worse. I'll have to wait a little longer.
They took me to a hospital a few hours after I arrived here. Somehow I'd managed to crawl to the end of the alley. A police car stopped after a few minutes and called the paramedics. The hospital was full of doctors and nurses, all shouting over one another. There was an Asian woman with an English accent who I later learned was the Blue Lady. She was only in the room for a few minutes and she left without helping me. Teller said she only helps you if you know her secret name. They gave me some drugs and I fell asleep. When I woke up my leg was in a cast and everything hurt. That's when I knew my powers were gone, and that I was going to have to heal like a normal girl.
I gave them Giles's number, but there was no Giles and no Sunnydale. I was in another world with no one to help me and no where to go. So I told them I didn't remember anything and after a while they stopped asking.
A few days later I left the hospital. They didn't want to let me go, but I knew I had to get back to the alley where I'd arrived in this world. If Willow was looking for me that was where she would start. So I found some clothes and some crutches and started walking. I had no money, and I knew no one in this city, but I had to get back to that alley.
I met Teller a couple of hours later. He was going through the trash at the back of a restaurant and putting what food he found into a plastic bag. When he saw me he closed his eyes and whispered something to himself. He seemed relieved to see me still standing there when he opened them again. I asked him if he'd found any food. We sat and talked for a while, and he gave me some stale bread and told me what to watch out for and how to keep the demons away. He promised to help me find my alley. I was tired by then, and couldn't go much further, so Teller let me go with him, back to the abandoned factory where he lived with the other kids.
I stayed with them for a year. The factory was full of bats, but they didn't bother me. There are scarier things than bats. Teller and Paulie knew all the best places to find food and warm clothes, and they showed me who was really a demon in disguise. The black SUVs were easy to spot, and the whores on street corners who made you one of them if you ate their food, but with some of the worst demons it was hard to tell. If it hadn't been for Teller, I would have let Bloody Mary see my face without even realizing, and then I would have fallen into a sleep and never woken up. That happened to Paulie after I'd been with them a couple of months. But Teller knew the Blue Lady's secret name, so she had to make Paulie well again.
He told it to me one day, after we'd left the factory and moved into the basement of an abandoned building. If I ever needed help, all I had to do was call her by her secret name, and she would save me. She was one of the Angels who'd come back across the lake to help drive the demons out, but it would take a long time, and we'd have to take care of ourselves until then.
It was handy having me around. I was older than the rest, and even though I didn't understand this world as well as they did, I could pretend to be an older sister or cousin when people came looking. I never did find the alley again, and my leg never healed up right. I walked with a limp, and sometimes it was hard to breathe. Glory had really done a number on me.
One day I came back to the basement and everyone was gone. Teller wouldn't leave without me, so I knew a demon had taken them. I was on my own, but I knew enough about how things worked in this world that I could handle it. I stayed away from the hospitals because the upstairs doctors were demons who pumped you full of Holdall venom and locked you in cells until you agreed to worship them. I hid when I saw the police because they worked with the Forresters, and even though I was too old for them they still scared me. And I stayed well clear of the hostels and the do-gooders. The last thing I wanted was to end up a slave in a hell dimension like that time in LA, without any slayer powers to help me.
For two years I was on my own, living under bridges, in doorways, or in abandoned buildings. Sometimes I'd hook up with other refugees, but after a while they'd fall under the influence of the demons and become druggies or whores, and I'd have to leave them. I knew Willow was never going to find me, if she'd ever looked, and I knew that I'd never get my powers back. I was stuck here in this world, a victim instead of a hero.
I miss my Mom, especially at nights when I'm cold and hungry. Sometimes I get sick and I miss her then most of all. She used to make me soup and take care of me, but now she was dead and I'd never see her again.
The Angels aren't going to win, or if they do it won't be for a long time. It gets harder and harder to resist the demon whores and the druggies, as they always have food and warm places to stay. I know that eventually I'll be so hungry or so cold that I'll give in, and that scares me. So I decided that I'd sooner die than join them. I'm a hero, even though that was in another world. And heroes never give in.
Yesterday one of the demon whores nearly had me. I hadn't eaten much for three days, and I was very tired. I didn't hear her come up behind me, but I smelled the hot burger she was holding out. She looked really concerned, in her short skirt, like she wanted to help me. But I knew it was all an act. They wear different faces to lure you in, and when they've got you they never let you go. She looked a bit like Mom, and I wanted to take the food, but I knew that if I did it would all be over, and I'd never be free of them. So I ran.
There's a truck coming now. The driver is talking on his cell phone, so he won't be paying attention. It's a big truck and it's coming fast. I have no choice. I'm still a hero, even though I'm not strong anymore, and I can't let myself fall into darkness. I wait until the last second, then I step quickly off the sidewalk. I feel sorry for the driver. He doesn't know that he's helping me and will probably blame himself for talking on his phone instead of watching the road. I close my eyes and try to remember that Christmas we had just before Mom died. It was the last time we were all together and it was the happiest I could remember being since I was called.
I hear the brakes screech before everything goes dark.