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Into the Bright Night

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You have no idea where you are. Part of your mind tells you that you already knew this. It’s the same part that is telling you you’re eleven, which is absurd because a few days ago you’d been ten. When your fingers reach out for your sister's they find nothing. Your eyes fly open and dart around looking for her. All you see is a dirty alleyway filled with trash. Your heart pounds and your mind reaches out for something that is no longer there.

You quickly abandon the alleyway, but the street is just as dilapidated and empty. It does have one advantage over the alley—windows. It takes you a moment to realize that the boy looking back is you. Your red hair hangs dull and limp and your face is covered in freckles, which somehow makes your brown eyes stand out, now that you've noticed them so are your arms and legs. It’s like you've been dunked in glue, then in chocolate sprinkles. You lick your finger, run it over your cheek, then lick it again. You don’t taste like chocolate.

The more you look, the more you realize that you are eleven. A whole year has gone missing and that scares you. You finally tear yourself away from your reflection and continue down the street, you need to find an adult and get them to take your back to your sister. To a place where the world doesn’t feel wrong, wrong, wrong.

You’re so wrapped up in your thoughts you don’t notice the group of people in the street until you run into them. You try to apologize, but it comes out as a croak. This causes a ripple of laughter amongst them.  The guy you ran into smiles in a very frightening way. “Looks like we found ourselves a frog.” You tense as a knife is drawn.

You bolt, not bothering to check where you’re going. Footsteps that aren't yours echo behind. Left, right, straight, it doesn’t matter where you turn, they seem to be only a few steps behind.

The chase ends when you hit a dead end. Lungs heaving, you turn around. The gang's all there, all with weapons in their hands. You stare at them resentfully, you never even got to meet your parents.

A flutter of cloth breaks the silence. Out of nowhere, a brilliant ball of color leaps at the ranks of the gang and fists start flying, a larger, darker blur joining the fray. It’s over in a minute and seven seconds. You slump against the wall, not really understanding what’s going on. You’re exhausted, just want to roll up into a ball and sleep. A voice breaks through your thoughts.

“Hey, you alright?” It’s the colorful one. Now that you’ve gotten a good look at him you realize the man is only wearing three colors, they’re just so bright that all you can think is ‘colorful’; his pale brown skin and dark hair help with that. There’s a surprisingly nice feel to him, which you like. You don't trust yourself to speak so you shrug instead.

The dark man-blur, who’s tall and more than a little imposing, moves a bit closer. “What are you doing here this late at night?”

“I don't know.” Your voice is still kind of croaky, you swallow and try again. “I don't know.” Much better. “I have no idea where I am.”

The colorful one kneels down so he’s at your height—the mask is unnerving, you’re used to seeing eyes. “I'm Robin, what's your name?”

You straighten. “Jason Pond.”

Robin grins. “Well, Jason Pond, how about Batman and I take you to the police and we can get you back to your parents? I bet they're worried sick about you.”

A warm feeling blooms in your chest. It turns into panic for a second when your hands pat your pockets, before you feel the edge of the folded photograph. You don’t want to lose it now when you’re so close to meeting your parents. With a shy smile you nod.